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Capsella bursa-pastoris - (L.)Medik.                
                 
Common Name Shepherd's Purse
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
Synonyms Thlaspi bursa-pastoris. Bursa abscissa. Bursa druceana. Capsella concava.
Known Hazards Signs of toxicity are sedation, pupil enlargement and breathing difficulty. Avoid if on treatments for high blood pressure. Avoid with thyroid gland disorders or heart disease. Possible addictive sedative effects with other depressants (e.g. Alcohol). Avoid during pregnancy [301].
Habitats Arable land, gardens, waste places etc, it is a common weed of cultivated soil[9, 17].
Range A virtually cosmopolitan plant, found in most regions of the world including Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Capsella bursa-pastoris is a ANNUAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jan to December, and the seeds ripen from Jan to December. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capsella_bursa-pastoris_Sturm23.jpg
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tocekas
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Oil.

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 4, 5, 52, 94]. The young leaves, used before the plant comes into flower, make a fine addition to salads[9]. The leaves are a cress and cabbage substitute[12], becoming peppery with age[172]. Leaves are usually available all year round, though they can also be dried for later use[12]. The leaves contain about 2.9% protein, 0.2% fat, 3.4% carbohydrate, 1% ash. They are rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C[179]. A zero moisture basis analysis is available[218]. The young flowering shoots can be eaten raw or cooked[264]. They are rather thin and fiddly but the taste is quite acceptable. They can be available at most times of the year. Seed - raw or cooked[94, 172]. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups etc[102, 183]. It is very fiddly to harvest and utilize, the seed is very small[85]. The seed contains 35% of a fatty oil[179]. This oil can be extracted and is edible[74]. The seedpods can be used as a peppery seasoning for soups and stews[183]. The fresh or dried root is a ginger substitute[85, 172, 183].
Composition                                         
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 280 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 35.6g; Fat: 4.2g; Carbohydrate: 44.1g; Fibre: 10.2g; Ash: 16.1g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 1763mg; Phosphorus: 729mg; Iron: 40.7mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 3939mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 21949mg; Thiamine (B1): 2.12mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.44mg; Niacin: 3.4mg; B6: 0mg; C: 305mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiscorbutic;  Astringent;  Cancer;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Haemostatic;  Homeopathy;  Hypotensive;  Oxytoxic;  Stimulant;  Vasoconstrictor;  
Vasodilator;  Vulnerary.

Shepherd's purse is little used in herbalism, though it is a commonly used domestic remedy, being especially efficacious in the treatment of both internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea etc[4, 222]. A tea made from the whole plant is antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, hypotensive, oxytocic, stimulant, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator and vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 13, 21, 46, 147, 165, 172, 176, 222]. A tea made from the dried herb is considered to be a sovereign remedy against haemorrhages of all kinds - the stomach, the lungs, the uterus and more especially the kidneys[4, 222]. The plant can be used fresh or dried, for drying it is harvested in the summer[9]. The dried herb quickly loses its effectiveness and should not be stored for more than a year[9]. Clinical trials on the effectiveness of this plant as a wound herb have been inconclusive[244]. It appears that either it varies considerably in its effectiveness from batch to batch, or perhaps a white fungus that is often found on the plant contains the medically active properties[244]. The plant has been ranked 7th amongst 250 potential anti-fertility plants in China[218]. It has proven uterine-contracting properties and is traditionally used during childbirth[222]. The plant is a folk remedy for cancer - it contains fumaric acid which has markedly reduced growth and viability of Ehrlich tumour in mice[218]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant[4]. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and urinary calculus[7]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd's Purse for nose bleeds, premenstrual syndrome, wounds & burns (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses
Insecticide;  Oil;  Soil reclamation.

The seed, when placed in water, attracts mosquitoes. It has a gummy substance that binds the insects mouth to the seed[201]. The seed also releases a substance toxic to the larvae. ½ kilo of seed is said to be able to kill 10 million larvae[172]. Plants can be grown on salty or marshy land in order to reclaim it by absorbing the salt and 'sweetening' the soil[201].
Cultivation details                                         
Plants flourish in most soils[17]. They will grow even in the poorest of soils, though in such a situation the plants might only reach a few centimetres tall before they flower and set seed[4]. In rich soils plants will take longer to go to seed and will grow up to 60cm tall[4]. Shepherd's purse is a very common garden weed that can spread freely in cultivated ground. It is usually in flower and producing seed in all months of the year. This species is a prime example of how a plant can be viewed as an annoying weed in some areas of the world whilst in others it is actually cultivated for its wide range of uses[4, 183]. The plant is extensively cultivated in some areas of the world as a cabbage-flavoured spring greens[268], in Japan it is one of the essential ingredients of a ceremonial rice and barley gruel that is eaten on January 7th[183]. The leaves grow rather larger under cultivation, they can be harvested about a month after sowing and can be treated as a cut and come again crop[206]. They do run to seed fairly rapidly, however, especially in hot dry weather or when in poor soils[206, K]. A member of the cabbage family, it is a host plant for many diseases of Brassicas[200]. Birds are very fond of the seeds of shepherd's purse[201].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow in situ February to May. Seed can also be sown as late as mid autumn[206]. A common weed of disturbed ground, the plant does not normally need any help to maintain itself[K].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(L.)Medik.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[5]Mabey. R. Food for Free.
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[12]Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder.
A handy pocket guide.
[13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[52]Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round.
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
[74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.
[85]Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains.
A superb book. Very readable, it gives the results of the authors experiments with native edible plants.
[94]Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West.
Useful wild plants in Western N. America. A pocket guide.
[102]Kavasch. B. Native Harvests.
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
[147]? A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[179]Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[206]Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables
Well written and very informative.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[244]Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
[264]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
[268]Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism
Excellent herbal with good concise information on over 400 herbs.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.
[302]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Commission E
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_E

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Sony Kim Tue Mar 21 2006
Where do I obtain seeds to plant in my backyard? Sony Kim
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