The young flowering shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. 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. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups etc. It is very fiddly to harvest and utilize, the seed is very small. The seed contains 35% of a fatty oil. This oil can be extracted and is edible. The seedpods can be used as a peppery seasoning for soups and stews.The fresh or dried root is a ginger substitute.
A tea made from the whole plant is antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, hypotensive, oxytocic, stimulant, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator and vulnerary. 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. The plant can be used fresh or dried, for drying it is harvested in the summer. The dried herb quickly loses its effectiveness and should not be stored for more than a year. Clinical trials on the effectiveness of this plant as a wound herb have been inconclusive. 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. The plant has been ranked 7th amongst 250 potential anti-fertility plants in China. It has proven uterine-contracting properties and is traditionally used during childbirth. The plant is a folk remedy for cancer - it contains fumaric acid which has markedly reduced growth and viability of Ehrlich tumour in mice.A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and urinary calculus.
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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. The plant is extensively cultivated in some areas of the world as a cabbage-flavoured spring greens, in Japan it is one of the essential ingredients of a ceremonial rice and barley gruel that is eaten on January 7th. 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. 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.Birds are very fond of the seeds of shepherd's purse.
Problems, pests & diseases
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