Shepherd’s Purse

I can’t say what it is about weeds that l have always loved? Perhaps it is quite simply because they are misunderstood like some animal species. Whatever your opinion or view is on weeds, they are everywhere, and they are here to stay.

Twenty-five years ago, l used to forage for weeds to feed the enormous number of rabbits l had in my commercial breeding operation. Knowing about them made everything easier because it meant that l wouldn’t accidentally kill an animal by feeding the wrong weed.

Most weeds are harmless, not all. Of course, some are and can be deadly. The fact is that people don’t like weeds because they don’t belong where they usually appear or are out of place. Many a time, gardeners especially don’t want them because weeds tend to grow quicker and easier than many ornamental flowers.

Weeds have a way of surviving. They are ONLY considered weeds on the domestic level because, let’s be honest, when we are out walking in the countryside, how many people are bothered by the presence of weeds then?

There are advantages and disadvantages to having weeds in your gardens and yards. They do have a lot of benefits that many people tend to ignore, and this series will highlight that.
The Beauty of Weeds

Companion Plantings
Encouraging wildlife
Fertilising and enriching the soils
Providing and active Mulch/Soil protection
Attracting pollinators and good insects
Repelling pests
Food source for animals and humans
Serves as decoy crops
Great for wildlifing the garden
Soil conditioning

Shepherd’s Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris

A good garden may have some weeds.

Thomas Fuller

Images from Pixabay

I have always liked Shepherd’s Purse, and l am not sure why, but l have, and l do. I think it is a delightful little weed. It can be found in fields, gardens, woodland tracks, pathways and roadways and disturbed and broken soils as much as it can be found in cultivated land.

It’s part of the mustard family. Many people see it as a different thing. To some, it is a wildflower, others a weed and others again as a herb. It is also known as ‘Mother’s Heart’ and ‘Case-Weed’ because the seed pods resemble tiny hearts. But also, the very name itself of the plant can be traced back to the skin textured pouch or purse that shepherd’s used to carry about with them when herding cattle.

Shepherd’s Purse leaves can be sautéed or eaten raw or tossed into a salad alongside the pods, which have a spicy taste and add a bit of crunch to a salad. Initially, apothecaries used to grow the herb for medicinal purposes in medieval times. Like with anything foraged from the wild, moderation and caution alike must be practised.

It can be an invasive weed, down to the sheer volume of seed pods each plant can produce, which numbers in the thousands every year. It can take to the ground very quickly indeed and spread like wildfire. Seeds buried or lost to broken soils can remain dormant for quite a few years and, once resurfaced, will germinate speedily.

Bees, wasps and butterflies are known to feed on the tiny flowers whilst small birds and some mammals consume the seeds.

I hope you enjoyed S is for Shepherd’s Purse and I’ll see you again soon.

The Autistic Composter

Species Guide Directory

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

12 thoughts on “Shepherd’s Purse

      1. Thanks Sadje.

        I have strangely enough a huge knowledge on weeds. I fell in love with weeds in my mid thirties and studied many extensively.

        At that time l was running a herd of 600 rabbits and l studied weeds so l could forage the lands to offer them as supplements to the rabbit feed 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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