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Shepherd’s Purse

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

This common plant has been used as a food over the centuries and gets its name from the seed pods or ‘purses’ that contain the seeds or ‘coins’. These seeds though tiny have been used as an ingredient for breads or dampers by being roasted and ground into a flour.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Shepherd’s Purse
Scientific Name Capsella bursa-pastoris
Season Start Mar
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Leaves growing on the flower stem have much smoother edges and are linear.

Basal Leaves

Heavily toothed like a Dandelion.

Flowers

Tiny, delicate white flowers growing in small groups at the top of a vertical stem.

Seeds

The seeds are contained in heart shaped or purse shaped seed pods running the length of the flower stem.

Habitat

Woodland, cultivated land, waste ground, gardens, cracks in pavements, in fact almost anywhere.

Possible Confusion

With its heart shaped seed pods it is difficult to confuse with anything else.

Taste

Slightly peppery or cabbage like.

Frequency

Common.

Collecting

The leaves are eaten raw or cooked with only the younger, fresher leaves being used. The flower tips can be eaten as a snack while out walking.

Medicinal Uses

The dried flowers and leaves of Shepherd’s Purse, used as a tea, are said to be good for stopping internal and external haemorrhaging particularly the kidneys. It was used for this purpose in the Great War. Some of the tea (cold) can be used on a cotton bud to staunch nosebleeds.

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