Capsella bursa-pastoris

shepard's purse, shepherd's purse, shepherdspurse, paniquesillo


Leaf Arrangement

alternate, basal (rosulate)

Leaf Margin

entire, denticulate, lobed

Leaf Type


Leaf Shape

lanceolate, lyrate, pinnatified

Growth Form


Flower Color


Flower Month

February - June

Height (meters)

0.0 - 0.6

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Cool season

Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Cultural Information

Seed germination is poor when seeds are fresh, but improves after storage. Chilling for 2 weeks at 5 degrees C improves germination (Kolk 1947). Literature on light requirments is somewhat conflicting, but weak light to darkness appears best for germination (Kolk 1947; Toole et al. 1957). Seeds planted on the soil surface or at a shallow depth germinated well, while those planted deeper than 2 cm did not (Dorph-Peterson 1924). Scarification increases germination (Crocker 1906).

Animal Use

Charles Robertson, 1928: (Short-tongued bees suck nectar or collect pollen; most flies suck nectar, although some flies also feed on pollen; other insects suck nectar; Robertson's observations occurred during the spring) Bees (long-tongued) Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia speciosa; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada parva; Megachilidae (Trypetini): Chelostoma philadelphi Bees (short-tongued) Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella aurata sn cp fq, Halictus confusus sn cp, Halictus ligatus, Halictus rubicunda sn cp, Lasioglossum anomalis sn cp, Lasioglossum coreopsis sn cp, Lasioglossum cressonii sn, Lasioglossum forbesii sn cp, Lasioglossum foxii sn cp fq, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp, Lasioglossum tegularis sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn cp; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus mesillae sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena arabis sn cp fq, Andrena cressonii sn cp fq, Andrena forbesii sn, Andrena imitatrix imitatrix sn cp, Andrena miserabilis bipunctata sn, Andrena nasonii sn cp, Opandrena personata sn cp fq Wasps Vespidae: Polistes fuscata Flies Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Eristalis arbustorum fq, Eristalis dimidiatus sn fp, Helophilus fasciatus, Helophilus latifrons, Mallota bautias, Melanostoma mellinum, Sphaerophoria contiqua, Syritta pipiens sn fp, Toxmerus geminatus, Toxomerus marginatus; Bombyliidae: Aldrichia ehrmanii sn fp; Conopidae: Thecophora occidensis, Zodion fulvifrons; Tachinidae: Gonia capitata, Periscepsia laevigata, Siphona geniculata fq, Tachinomyia panaetius; Sarcophagidae: Cynomya cadaverina fq, Gymnoprosopa polita, Sarcophaga sinuata; Calliphoridae: Helicobia rapax, Lucilia caesar, Lucilia sericata; Anthomyiidae: Anthomyia acra, Delia platura Butterflies Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis, Phyciodes tharos; Pieridae: Pontia protodice Skippers Hesperiidae: Erynnis martialis, Pholisora catullus, Polites peckius

Natural History

Shepherd's purse gets its name from its fruit, which resembles the cloth purses used by shepherds in the middle ages. It occurs in vacant lots in cities, roadsides, and fields. It is a disturbance colonizer and a widespread weed occurring in most parts of the world.


Waste land and street margins; roadsides and fields.