Shepard's purse is a
broadleaf weed named after the appearance of its seed capsule. Its capsule (Capsella)
reminded ancient growers of a shepard's (pastoris) purse (bursa) (left).
Shepard's purse is in the mustard family. It can grow as a summer annual, but more typically is a winter annual. The seed germinates and at first forms a rosette (left), a plant form with leaves attached at a common axis with no stems. Below is a picture of the shepard's purse rosette as it might appear in the autumn.
In it's winter annual life cycle, it will form a stalk with leaves and ending with flowers and capsules the following spring, as seen in the picture left.
This is another view (left) of a shepard's purse plant in the spring with the rosette on the ground, and the flower stalk rising above and ending with some flowers.
The rosette leaves of several plants can be seen tangled together left. The leaves are long, ranging from shallowly to deeply and coarsely lobed to pinnately divided.
White, 4-petaled flowers (typical mustard flowers) can be seen left. The triangular (heart-shaped; shepard's purse) capsules are divided into 2 sides that bear several seeds per side.
This flower stalk (left) shows the several stages of reproduction, from green buds before flowering, white flowers, and a range of capsule sizes in various stages of development.
This is a closer look (left) of the shepard's purse. I wonder if shepard's still carry purses shaped like this somewhere?
This is a picture (left) of a flowering shepard's purse plant early in the season injured by the herbicide bentazon.