Friday, May 1, 2009

100 Species # 48

Specimen #48 Shepherd's Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris

In addition to being sideways (thank you, blogspot) this plant is very hard to see in the photo. The sun was so bright when I took this photo that I had no idea if it turned out well. For really good photos of all the plant parts, go here. We find this plant everywhere. It is an early bloomer and I am guessing that it is a weed to most people.

Shepherd's Purse is part of the mustard family. The overall plant shape looks similar to black mustard, and it also has four petals and clustered flowers at the top of a stem. It is not native, but is edible and the seeds could be ground for mustard.

The "purse" referred to in the name of the plant is the seed pod. I guess shepherd's carried triangle or heart shaped bags in the past. Who knew? Heart shaped pods, looking like leaves, form below the cluster of flowers. We split some pods open to look at the seeds.

The leaves at the base of the plant remind me of dandelion leaves.

The Kansas Wildflowers website says that one plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds!

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