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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Capsella bursa-pastoris - shepherd's purse

Synonyms: Capsella rubella
Plant Form: Forb or Subshrub

Family: Brassicaceae

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Flower spike
Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Flower spike
Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Basal leaves
Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Forb Plant Description

Origin: Introduced   Life Cycle: Annual
General Desc: A small invasive plant with flat, lance shaped upper leaves attached by the pointed end to fine stalks along the stem.
Identification notes: Distinctive flattened triangular (heart-shaped) fruits and hairs on lower herbage distinguish this from other genus in the Brassicaceae family. There is only 1 species in this genus.
Height: 3 to 18 inches


Habitat Description: Has become well-established throughout the U.S. and Canada. It is common in cultivated fields, gardens, waste areas including roadsides, and poorly maintained pastures.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Montane Conifer Forest, Riparian, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: Below 9200 feet

Flower Characteristics

Color: White     Shape: Regular in round clusters     Tubular: N     Flowering Period: Jan - Dec
Description: This plant is one of the first to flower in spring. It's bloom time is determined by its location and in some areas it can bloom throughout the year. Four regular petals typical of the mustard family.

Leaf and Stem Characteristics

Leaf Color: Green     Leaf Type: Simple     Leaf Shape: Pinnatifid     Leaf Margin: Dissected     Leaf Attachment: Basal and alternate     Leaves Clasp: Y
Hairs: Leaves and stems     Spines: N
Leaf Description: One to several erect and slender stems from a basal rosette. The lower rosette leaves are deeply dissected while the upper leaves are lance shaped, clasp the stem, and are toothed or entire.

Fruit and Seed Characteristics

Fruit Color: Reddish-brown   
Fruit Type: Pod
Fruit Notes: Base is wedge-shaped and notched.
Seed Notes: Seed pods are heart-shaped and 2 celled. The plant reproduces entirely from seeds which are very small and oblong with a ridge on each side.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Content Questions/Comments: Email Matt Halldorson  
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