Shepherd's Purse Illustration

Shepherd's Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Shepherd's Purse is a winter annual broadleaf weed that is also commonly known as Shepherd\'s-bag, Pepper Plant, Case Weed, Shepherd\'s Purse Herb and Pick-purse. Its scientific name is Capsella bursa-pastoris.








Shepherd's Purse is a broadleaf weed that produces a laterally growing basal rosette. Its flowering stems are mostly unbranched, and its stems are vertically growing, slender and covered with gray hairs. Each flowering stem on Shepherd's Purse terminates in a raceme (a specific cluster pattern) of tiny white flowers. These short-lived flowers bloom only toward the tip of the stem. The tiny flowers are only about 1/10 of an inch across, consisting of four white petals and four pale-green to white sepals. The fruit, or seedpod, is triangular to heart-shaped with two symmetrical sides. Shepherd's Purse flowers from March through November.

Life Cycle

This broadleaf weed prefers heavily disturbed areas and is often found in fields, pastures, thin lawns, gardens, construction sites, waste areas and along railroads and roadsides. Shepherd's Purse can be found throughout most of North America.

Life Cycle Image


If Capsella bursa-pastoris is present in your lawn, cultural weed control methods—including good lawn-mowing habits—can prevent further infestation by limiting seed production. However, professionally applied broadleaf weed killers must be used for the complete removal of existing weeds.


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