Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik.
shepherd's purse
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #3801)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Capsella bursa-pastoris
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend


Shepherd's purse is an annual tap-rooted, introduced European species that is found in North America across Canada and in all but one US state (Puerto Rico) (USDA 2011). This species begins to flower early in lowland areas in BC (February/March). It is found in disturbed sites (roadsides, fields and waste places) in the lowland, steppe and montane zones. It is readily identifiable because of the distinctive fruits (heart-shaped silicles).

Species Information

Annual herb from a taproot; stems simple to branched, 10-50 cm long, with simple and starlike hairs.
Basal leaves in rosettes, stalked, 3-6 cm long, oblanceolate, more or less entire to pinnately lobed or dissected; stem leaves unstalked and clasping, lanceolate to oblong-oblanceolate, mostly remotely saw-toothed, with earlike lobes at the base.
Inflorescene a many-flowered raceme; flower stalks slender, spreading, 7-15 mm long; petals white, with a distinct stalklike base, 1.5-4 mm long; sepals 2 mm long.
Silicles, heart-shaped to triangular, 4-8 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, strongly flattened, broad at tip, squared-off to slightly notched; seeds numerous, minutely net-veined.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


Ecological Framework for Capsella bursa-pastoris

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres)
694 328 1010
Slope Gradient (%)
10 0 28

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

172 37 308
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 2 5
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

BG(2), IDF(5), PP(3)

Habitat and Range

Mesic to dry roadsides, fields and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common throughout BC; introduced from Eurasia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Bursa bursa-pastoris (L.) Britt.
Bursa bursa-pastoris var. bifida CrTpin
Bursa gracilis Gren.
Capsella rubella Reut.
Thlaspi bursa-pastoris L.