Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medic. - Sheperd's Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris plant

Family - Brassicaceae

Stems - To +50cm tall but typically less, herbaceous, erect, stellate pubescent, simple or branching, with a fairly large taproot.

Capsella bursa-pastoris stem

Leaves - Basal leaves pinnatifid, petiolate, to 10cm long, stellate pubescent. Lobes bristle-margined, minutely toothed. Cauline leaves auriculate-clasping, linear-lanceolate, minutely toothed to entire, stellate pubescent, reduced upward. Auricles pointed.

Capsella bursa-pastoris basalsBasal leaves in-situ.

Capsella bursa-pastoris leaves

Inflorescence - A terminal raceme to +25cm long(tall). Pedicels spreading, 1-2cm long.

Capsella bursa-pastoris inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla 3-4mm broad. Petals 4, white, +/-2mm long, free. Stamens 6, attached at base of ovary. Style 1, very short. Sepals 4, free, green, glabrous, 2mm long, oblong.

Capsella bursa-pastoris calyxCalyx close-up.

Capsella bursa-pastoris flowerFlower close-up.

Fruit - Obcordate (or triangular) silicle to +3mm long, notched or truncate at apex.

Flowering - March - November.

Habitat - Waste ground, disturbed sites, fields, pastures, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This plant is one of the most common introduced members of the cabbage family anywhere. The triangular seeds are easily recognized and edible. This is one of the earliest flowering plants in the state. It can be found throughout Missouri.

Photographs taken in Jacksonville, NC., 3-1-03, off College Ave., Columbia, MO., 4-5-04, and in Auburn, AL., 2-19-05.


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