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Uses

Edible uses

Notes

Leaves - raw or cooked[1][2][3][4][5]. The young leaves, used before the plant comes into flower, make a fine addition to salads[6]. The leaves are a cress and cabbage substitute[7], becoming peppery with age[8]. Leaves are usually available all year round, though they can also be dried for later use[7]. The leaves contain about 2.9% protein, 0.2% fat, 3.4% carbohydrate, 1% ash. They are rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C[9]. A zero moisture basis analysis is available[10].

The young flowering shoots can be eaten raw or cooked[11]. 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[5][8]. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups etc[12][13]. It is very fiddly to harvest and utilize, the seed is very small[14]. The seed contains 35% of a fatty oil[9]. This oil can be extracted and is edible[15]. The seedpods can be used as a peppery seasoning for soups and stews[13].

The fresh or dried root is a ginger substitute[14][8][13].

Unknown part

Leaves

Material uses

The seed, when placed in water, attracts mosquitoes. It has a gummy substance that binds the insects mouth to the seed[16]. The seed also releases a substance toxic to the larvae. ½ kilo of seed is said to be able to kill 10 million larvae[8]. Plants can be grown on salty or marshy land in order to reclaim it by absorbing the salt and 'sweetening' the soil[16].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[2][17].

A tea made from the whole plant is antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, hypotensive, oxytocic, stimulant, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator and vulnerary[2][18][6][19][20][21][22][23][8][24][17]. 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[2][17]. The plant can be used fresh or dried, for drying it is harvested in the summer[6]. The dried herb quickly loses its effectiveness and should not be stored for more than a year[6]. Clinical trials on the effectiveness of this plant as a wound herb have been inconclusive[25]. 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[25]. The plant has been ranked 7th amongst 250 potential anti-fertility plants in China[10]. It has proven uterine-contracting properties and is traditionally used during childbirth[17]. The plant is a folk remedy for cancer - it contains fumaric acid which has markedly reduced growth and viability of Ehrlich tumour in mice[10].

A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant[2]. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and urinary calculus[18].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Soil builder

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ February to May. Seed can also be sown as late as mid autumn[26]. A common weed of disturbed ground, the plant does not normally need any help to maintain itself[K].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Capsella bursa-pastoris. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Plants flourish in most soils[27]. 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[2]. In rich soils plants will take longer to go to seed and will grow up to 60cm tall[2].

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[2][13]. The plant is extensively cultivated in some areas of the world as a cabbage-flavoured spring greens[28], in Japan it is one of the essential ingredients of a ceremonial rice and barley gruel that is eaten on January 7th[13]. 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[26]. 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[29].

Birds are very fond of the seeds of shepherd's purse[16].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Capsella bursa-pastoris. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Capsella bursa-pastoris.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Capsella bursa-pastoris
Genus
Capsella
Family
Brassicaceae
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
?
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Salinity
Ecosystems
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Life
Deciduous or Evergreen
?
Herbaceous or Woody
?
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
?
Mature Size
Fertility
Pollinators
Flower Colour
?
Flower Type

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References

  1. ? 1.01.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.12.22.32.42.52.62.72.82.9 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
  4. ? 4.04.1 Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.15.2 Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West. Naturegraph Co. ISBN 0-911010-54-8 (1962-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.16.26.36.46.5 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.17.2 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
  8. ? 8.08.18.28.38.48.58.68.7 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  9. ? 9.09.19.2 Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.110.210.310.4 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables Macmillan Reference Books, London. ISBN 0 333 62640 0 (1995-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.113.213.313.413.5 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  14. ? 14.014.114.2 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.116.216.3 Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.117.217.317.4 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.118.2 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  19. ? 19.019.1 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
  20. ? 20.020.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  21. ? 21.021.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  22. ? 22.022.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
  23. ? 23.023.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  24. ? 24.024.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
  25. ? 25.025.125.2 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
  26. ? 26.026.1 Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4781-4 (1991-00-00)
  27. ? 27.027.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
  28. ? Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism Orbis Publishing. London. ISBN 0-85613-067-2 (1979-00-00)
  29. ? 29.029.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)

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