WSU Extension


Weeds : Shepherd's-purse : Capsella bursa-pastoris
(revision date: 3/19/2019)

Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Cycle: Annual
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Shepherd's-purse is an annual or winter annual (sometimes a biennial) plant with a thin taproot. The leaves are primarily in a basal rosette and may have smooth edges or be variously lobed or toothed. The leaves are somewhat hairy beneath. Flowers are borne on long upright stems rising from the rosette of leaves. Typically, some smaller leaves occur along the flower stalks, sometimes with branches in the leaf axils. The small, four-petalled, white flowers occur singly and begin blooming at the lower part of the stem first. Seed pods develop on 1/2-inch stalks and are heart-shaped to triangular. It is common for nearly mature seed pods and unopened flower buds to be present on the same stem (at the bottom and top of the stem, respectively).
Shepherd's-purse is a weed of gardens, fields, waste areas, and similar cultivated or disturbed sites.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Maintaining a healthy planting or turf area to provide competition will prevent weed establishment.
  • Cultivation (rototilling or hoeing) will effectively eliminate plants.
  • Reduce weed infestation by handpulling weeds.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label directions. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
  • dichlobenil
  • products containing diquat
Turf areas
  • products containing 2,4-D
  • products containing MCPA
  • products containing MCPP
  • triclopyr
Bare ground areas
  • glyphosate
  • products containing diquat
  • products containing 2,4-D
  • triclopyr
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Caption: Shepherd's-purse
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Shepherd's-purse flowers
Photo by: D.G. Swan
Caption: Shepherd's-purse seed pod
Photo by: R. Parker
Caption: Shepherd's-purse seedling
Photo by: R. Parker
Caption: Shepherd's-purse in bloom
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Shepherd's-purse flower closeup
Photo by: T. W. Miller
Caption: Shepherd's-purse flowers and fruits
Photo by: T. W. Miller
Caption: Shepherd's-purse rosette
Photo by: T. W. Miller
Caption: Shepherd's-purse flower
Photo by: T. W. Miller