Identify Sheperd’s Purse: Wild Plant ID in 4 Easy

Sheperds Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is a common wild edible found in poor soils around lawns, gardens, and driveways. It is a great plant to learn as it is safe and there are no toxic look a likes in the U.S. to my knowledge. Identifying this plant is relatively easy as there are several features to look for depending on the season.

In the early spring, Sheperds Purse has a basal rosette of leaves that are deeply incised with lobes and are often described as Dandelion like in appearance. The second type of leaf can be found along the upper portions of the stem and are thin and narrow, clasping around the stem with no leaf stem attaching them. The distinct heart shaped seedpods appear from mid April to mid May and are a unique feature of this plant.

Sheperds Purse has two edible parts. The leaves are edible raw and add a nice peppery flavor to salads. The seedpods can also be used in place of black pepper, or used in soups, stews, salads, or stir fry.

Overall, Sheperds Purse is a great wild edible plant to learn as it is safe and easy to identify. It has two edible parts that can be used in a variety of dishes, adding a unique peppery flavor. So why not give it a try and see what you think?


Written by Keith Jacobs

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