I’m a little late with this week’s post.  It’s been a busy week and I don’t write my posts ahead of time.  I like to capture what’s going on here and now.  Our Weed of the Week  has been popping up all over the last few days and it’s a wonderful spring herb to get to know…

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is an early spring wild herb that got its folk name from the heart-shaped (or purse-shaped) seed pods.   Another common name is Mother’s Heart.  It is easily identified once the pods develop, but looks much like tooth-leaved dandelion when they are in the rosette stage.  If in doubt, tear a leaf; only dandelion will have a “milky” sap.

Though considered by most people to be a lowly, common weed, Shepherd’s Purse has medicinal properties that make it worth harvesting rather than mowing.  When making medicine, the aerial parts of the flowering plant are used.

It is also considered a food and can be added raw to spring herb salads having a slightly milder flavor than radishes.  Harvest before flowering to reduce bitterness.

Shepherd’s Purse will adapt to the condition where it grows.  If the soil is poor, it will get only a few inches tall.  If the soil is rich, it will flourish and grow up to 2 feet tall.

Shepherd’s Purse is most commonly used for internal and external bleeding.  Fresh leaves are used to stop a nose bleed and applied to bleeding wounds.   Internally, it is used for excessive menstrual and postpartum bleeding.  Do not use if pregnant.

Most spring greens are diuretics, meaning they increase the amount of urine excreted, which is one way our body’s get rid of toxins.  Shepherd’s Purse is a diuretic used in treating urinary and kidney complaints as well as flushing toxins in treating skin problems.

One of the nicest perks about leaving weeds like Shepherd’s Purse to grow wild is that they are great food for birds.  Goldfinches love Shepherd’s Purse, as do most songbirds.

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