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Capsella bursa-pastoris

Capsella bursa-pastoris, known by its common name shepherd's-purse because of its triangular, purse-like pods, is a small (up to 0.5 m) annual and ruderal species, and a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. It is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor[1] but is naturalized and considered a common weed in many parts of the world, especially in colder climates,[2] including Britain, where it is regarded as an archaeophyte,[3][4] North America[5][6] and China[7] but also in the Mediterranean and North Africa.[1] Capsella bursa-pastoris is closely related to the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana and is also used as a model organism due to the variety of genes expressed throughout its life cycle that can be compared to genes that are well studied in A. thaliana. Unlike most flowering plants, it flowers almost all year round.[6][7] Like many other annual ruderals exploiting disturbed ground, C. bursa-pastoris reproduces entirely from seed, has a long soil seed bank,[3] and short generation time[1] and is capable of producing several generations each year.


rosette (a), pointed leaves, flowers (c–e), pods (i, k)

C. bursa-pastoris plants grow from a rosette of lobed leaves at the base. From the base emerges a stem about 0.2 to 0.5 m tall, which bears a few pointed leaves which partly grasp the stem. The flowers are white and small, in loose racemes, and produce seed pods which are heart-shaped.[6]

Like a number of other plants in several plant families, its seeds contain a substance known as mucilage, a condition known as myxospermy.[8] The adaptive value of myxospermy is unknown,[8] although the fact that mucilage becomes sticky when wet has led some to propose that C. bursa-pastoris traps insects which then provide nutrients to the seedling, which would make it protocarnivorous.[9]


C. bursa-pastoris is gathered from the wild[10] or grown[11] for food,[7][11] to supplement animal feed,[10] for cosmetics,[10] and for medicinal purposes.[7][10] It is commonly used as food in Shanghai and the surrounding Jiangnan region, where they are stir-fried with rice cakes and other ingredients or as part of the filling in wontons.[citation needed] It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku. In Korea it is known as naengi and its roots are one of the ingredients of the characteristic Korean dish, namul (fresh greens and wild vegetables).[12]

Capsella bursa-pastoris herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea or tincture, or externally as tincture, tea or ointments, for treatment of disorders of the skin, locomotor system, cardiovascular system, hemostasis, and gynaecologic problems.[13]

Fumaric acid is one chemical substance that has been isolated from C. bursa-pastoris.[14]


Capsella bursa-pastoris
Traditional Chinese薺菜
Simplified Chinese荠菜

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Aksoy A, Dixon JM and Hale WH (1998) Biological flora of the British Isles. Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medikus (Thlaspi bursapastoris L., Bursa bursa-pastoris (L.) Shull, Bursa pastoris (L.) Weber). Journal of Ecology 86: 171-186
  2. ^ "Capsella bursa-pastoris". Flora of Pakistan. 
  3. ^ a b Preston CD, Pearman DA & Dines TD (2002) New Atlas of the British Flora. Oxford University Press
  4. ^ Preston CD, Pearman DA & Hall AR(2004) Archaeophytes in Britain. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society 145, 257-294
  5. ^ USDA PLANTS Profile: Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik
  6. ^ a b c Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Capsella bursa-pastoris". Flora of China. 
  8. ^ a b Tamara L. Western, Debra J. Skinner, and George W. Haughn (February 2000). "Differentiation of Mucilage Secretory Cells of the Arabidopsis Seed Coat". Plant Physiology 122 (2): 345–355. doi:10.1104/pp.122.2.345. PMC 58872. PMID 10677428. 
  9. ^ Barber, J.T. (1978). "Capsella bursa-pastoris seeds: Are they "carnivorous"?". Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 7 (2): 39–42. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Capsella bursa-pastoris (Ecocrop code 4164)". ecocrop. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 
  11. ^ a b "Capsella bursa-pastoris - (L.)Medik.". Plants For A Future database report. 
  12. ^ Pratt, Keith L.; Richard Rutt; James Hoare (1999). Korea: a historical and cultural dictionary. Richmond, Surrey.: Curzon Press. pp. 310–310. ISBN 0-7007-0464-7. 
  13. ^ Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, Fakhrudin N, Atanasov AG, Heiss EH,Wawrosch C, Reznicek G, Dirsch VM, Saukel J, Kopp B. Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine - An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs. J Ethnopharmacol.2013 Jun13. doi:pii: S0378-8741(13)00410-8. 10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID 23770053.
  14. ^ Kuroda, K.; Akao, M.; Kanisawa, M.; Miyaki, K. (1976). "Inhibitory effect of Capsella bursa-pastoris extract on growth of Ehrlich solid tumor in mice". Cancer Research 36 (6): 1900–1903. PMID 1268843.  edit


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