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This is a non-native species.

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's Purse)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Foothills, montane. Fields, lawns, roadsides. Spring, summer.
Near Yellow Jacket Canyon, May 20, 2011.

Capsella bursa-pastoris is a common alien weed that dates its invasion of our area to at least the late 1800s.  As the map below indicates, the plant occurs in almost every county of every state in the United States.  In our area, the plant grows on disturbed sites from about 850 to 3000 meters elevation.

Stems are erect to about 20 inches tall and the plant is variously hairy, with a mixture of straight and stellate hairs (in a starburst pattern).

As the top photograph at left illustrates, the plant can be difficult to find in its common habitat of grass meadows. The cluster of basal leaves, ranging from entire to deeply lobed, is the most prominent aspect of the plant. Upper stem leaves are few, reduced in size, and often clasping the stem.

In 1753 Linnaeus named this species Thlaspia bursa-pastoris.  In 1792 Medikus named the Capsella genus and renamed this species Capsella bursa-pastoris.

Capsella is Latin for "little box", and "bursa-pastoris" is also Latin and the source of the common name, "Shepherd's [pastoris] Purse [bursa]". 

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's Purse)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Foothills, montane. Fields, lawns, roadsides. Spring, summer.
Near Yellow Jacket Canyon, May 20, 2011.

Flowers are minute on long pedicels and quickly produce the shepherd's purse seed capsules.

Capsella bursa-pastoris
Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's Purse)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Foothills, montane. Fields, lawns, roadsides. Spring, summer.
Boggy Draw Trails, May 16, 2013.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Range map for Capsella bursa-pastoris