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shepherd's purse


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A common Eurasian weed (Capsella bursa-pastoris) having small white flowers and flat, heart-shaped or triangular fruit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A weed, Capsella bursa-pastoris, family Brassicaceae, native to Europe but now found world-wide.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A common cruciferous weed, Capsella Bursa-pastoris.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. white-flowered annual European herb bearing triangular notched pods; nearly cosmopolitan as an introduced weed


From its pouchlike pods.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Compare mediaeval Latin bursa pastoris, French bourse-de-berger, German Hirtentasche. (Wiktionary)


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  • Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is originally from Europe, but has become very common in many parts of the world. Its name derives from Latin and means "little box", "purse of the shepherd". This name refers to the capsule in the shape of a shepherd's purse, which is also its common name.

    Shepherd's Purse grows in gardens, lots, fields, waste grounds, and embankments with soils that are not too dry and that provide enough sunshine.

    This is rather a small plant, growing to 6-20 cm high. Its fine stalks spread along the main stem. The basal leaves are lanceolate and dentate. The white flowers are arranged in loose racemes. They are radially symmetrical with four petals.

    What makes this plant so special is its seed capsule. This heart-shaped fruit is a flat and triangular pod. It is attached to the stalk by its pointed end, projecting erect.


    February 18, 2008