Common names (selected) English: Shepherd’s Purse, shepherd’s bag, pepper plant, shepherd’s heart, pick-pocket; Chinese: 荠 (water chestnut); French: bourse à pasteur, capselle à pasteur; German: Hirtentäschel; Italian: borsa pastore; Polish: pasterska kieszonka, kaletka pasterska chlebek, chlebki, chleb świętojański, kapsułki, babie kapsy, , kaletka pasterska, kaleta, krwawnik, bydelnik, igielnik, sercowa torebka; Portuguese: bolsa-de-pastor, erva-do-bom-pastor; Spanish: zurrón de pastor; Swedish: lomme
Description: Winter annual
Native regions and distribution: Native to Europe, temperate and tropical Asia, north Africa. Widely distributed around the world, including all across North and South America, Greenland, and Australia.
Urban habitat: Commonly found in neglected lawns, minimally maintained parks, vacant lots, rubble dump sites, and in pavement openings.
Ecological function: Disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground. Food and habitat for insects and fungi.
History /human uses: Capsella bursa-pastoris was introduced into North American shortly after European colonization in the 1600’s. The plant is now found in most parts of the world and is the second most common weed on earth. Many cultures have used C. bursa-pastoris medicinally. Traditional European medicine used a tea made from the plant to stop internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. The plant has also been used as an astringent, stimulant, diruetic, and to accelerate childbirth and promote the healing of wounds. Many Native American tribes used the plant medicinally: the Cheyenne, Chippewa, Mohegan, and Mahuna used it for treatment of digestive problems, diarrhea, and headaches and the Menominee used it was a wash for treatment of poison ivy. Several tribes also consumed the plant and seeds as food. In the Shanghai region of China, the plant is consumed as food and in Korea, its roots are one of the ingredients in the dish namul.