Shepherd’s purse – characteristics, cultivation and use

shepherd's purse flower

The shepherd’s purse grows inconspicuous on roadsides and is barely noticed, because it has such small leaves. If you know it, you recognize it by its small triangular pouch. The best known healing effect is the hemostatic effect of the shepherd’s purse. Therefore, shepherd’s tea is often drunk after birth to minimize after-bleeding. Even against too heavy menstrual bleeding the herb can be used successfully. In addition to these known effects, shepherd’s purse helps against a wide range of health problems. For example, it regulates blood pressure, promotes digestion and heals eczema.

Profile of shepherd’s purse:

Scientific name: Capsella bursa-pastoris

Plant family: crucifers, mustards (Brassicaceae)

Sowing time / Planting time: spring

Flowering period: April – November

Harvest time: April – October

Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers, fruits, buds, seeds, shoots, roots

Location: sunny

Soil quality: nutrient-rich soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: hemostasis, menstrual complaints, low blood pressure, pain relief

Use as aromatic herb: wild herbs salads, raw vegetables, soups, herb quark

Plant characteristics and classification of shepherd’s purse

Origin and occurrence of the shepherd’s purse

Originally the shepherd’s purse was native to southern Europe and western Asia. But the plant has been living near people for a long time and benefits from the connection with us that has spread it throughout Europe. It is located on fallow land and ruderal areas, rubbish plots, fields and gardens. It even grows at altitudes of up to 2,000 m (6,000 feet). In the meantime, the shepherd’s purse is almost widespread worldwide and occurs in the climatically temperate zone and in the mountains of the tropics. The herb settles mainly on nitrogen and nutrient-rich soils.

Plant order of shepherd’s purse

The species botanically referred to as Capsella bursa-pastoris is called the common shepherd’s purse. Some botanists say that only three species of the genus shepherd’s purse exist, but much more is mentioned in American literature. The ordinary shepherd’s purse belongs to the family of the crucifers family and is thus distantly related to herbs such as watercress or mustard.

Characteristics of the shepherd’s purse


The shepherd’s purse is an annual to biennial herb, which is between 20 and 40 cm (8 and 16 in) high. The root can reach up to 90 cm (36 in) deep into the ground. Shepherd’s purse is one of the so-called day-neutral plants. By this is meant that plants can form their flowers under both short-term and long-day conditions.


The basal leaves are arranged in rosettes of lobed leaves at the base. The upper stem leaves are entire, lanceolate with an arrow-shaped base.


The white, up to 5 mm (0.2 in) wide flowers appear exceptionally long; The flowering period can range from February until well into autumn, in warm regions, the shepherd’s purse can even bloom throughout the year. The flowers form a terminal grape.


The fruits are two-lobed, small pods. Each individual plant can produce up to 64,000 seeds. And four generations can follow each other each year. This creates a huge multiplication potential. The seeds are spread by hurling from the open pods by rain and wind. Earthworms pull the seeds into the ground, where they can survive for a long time and remain germinable. The seeds of the shepherd’s purse keep their germination ability for up to 30 years. The sticky seeds also adhere to clothing and shoes or to passing animals and are thus spread.

shepherd's purse
shepherd’s purse

Shepherd’s purse – cultivation and care


Shepherd’s purse has pretty low demands on the location. The inconspicuous plant loves sunny spots and is one of the first plants that grows on abandoned fallow land, wild meadows and fields. It is considered a pointer plant for nutrient-rich soils that are rich in nitrogen.


In nature, the common shepherd’s purse sows by itself. The seeds that fall to the ground are dug up by microorganisms that live in the soil and germinate there. Under these circumstances, the period of sowing does not matter, the seeds are capable of germinating for many years.

Shepherd’s purse as a crop is sown in spring. The plant needs light to germ, so the small seeds may only be lightly pressed on soil or ground. It is important that the place is sunny and the soil is rich in nutrients.

Shepherd’s purse and its use

Due to its heart-shaped leaves the shepherd’s purse is a plant easily distinguishable from other wild herbs. The herb has long been valued in natural medicine.

Shepherd’s purse in the kitchen

Shepherd’s purse is full of minerals and vitamins, to name are in particular iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin C and the high protein content. Nevertheless, it does not have great significance in the kitchen. In the Middle Ages, however, the plant was used more frequently and it was valued as a substitute for mustard seed.

The pods are ideal for the preparation of wild herb salads. Although it is a bit tedious to separate the individual buns from the plant, the nutty flavor is an ideal complement.

Likewise, the pods are suitable for the preparation of soups, stews, quarks and cream cheese. There it is always used fresh. Of course, the pods are also perfect for decorating various dishes.

Also, used are the basal leaves and the flowers that taste best when they are harvested in the spring. Here too, salads can be served. In some recipes, the leaves are also used for casseroles.

Shepherd’s purse as a medicinal herb

The most common use of the shepherd’s purse is a tea from the flowering herb. A tincture can also be made from the herb, so you always have it at hand.


Internally, it is mainly used for bleeding, for example, against excessive menstrual bleeding, gastric bleeding, renal haemorrhage. The hemostatic effect is achieved by contracting and sealing the blood vessels. In case of internal bleeding one should of course first and foremost consult the doctor and may only use shepherd’s purse tea therapy-accompanying.

Therefore, the main purpose in everyday life in the case of excessive menstrual bleeding, nosebleeds, minor skin injurie or after childbirth in order to stop or reduce the after-bleeding. For nosebleeds, you can sniff the tea.

Uterine effectiveness

As the shepherd’s purse stimulates the muscles of the uterus to contraction, its tea encourages labor and promotes menstruation. This is usually a desirable effect in the context of childbirth and can help make childbirth faster.

In early pregnancy, however, this effect is undesirable because it can lead to miscarriages.

Shepherd’s purse has a double effect on menstruation that seems contradictory. Menstruation is promoted and triggered, but if it is too strong, the bleeding is stopped.


Do not use shepherd’s purse in pregnancy! Only when the birth is due, shepherd’s purse can be used, because shepherd’s purse can promote contractions.

Circulatory effect

The shepherd’s purse has the miraculous ability to regulate blood pressure. High blood pressure is thus lowered and low blood pressure amplified. This mode of action is related to the effect on the blood vessel system. The plant can also help against atherosclerosis. Contraction of the blood vessels also works against varicose veins and hemorrhoids.


Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effect, it can also be used for colds and respiratory infections. In addition, it still works blood purifying, which results in a good combination for rheumatism and gout.

Preparation of a shepherd’s purse tea

Time needed: 10 minutes

This is how you prepare a shepherd’s purse tea at home.
For a tea, the herb and root are harvested and dried or used fresh.

  1. put two teaspoons of the herb in a tea strainer within a cup

  2. dash with boiling water

  3. let steep for 5 to 10 minutes

It is best to drink from this tea for a period of two to four weeks up to three cups a day. For external use twice the amount of the herb is used as an infusion.

shepherd's purse on a meadow
shepherd’s purse on a meadow

Shepherd’s purse can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • arteriosklereose
  • constipation
  • earache
  • eczema
  • fever
  • gout
  • hemorrhoids
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney problem
  • low blood pressure
  • lung weakness
  • menstrual disorders
  • nosebleeds
  • poor circulation of the blood
  • promoting menstrual
  • rheumatism
  • stimulating metabolism
  • stomach bleeding (mild, treatment-supportive)
  • stomach pain
  • too much menstrual bleeding
  • uterine bleeding
  • varicose veins
  • wound

Medicinal properties

  • anti-inflammatory
  • astringent
  • blood purifier
  • diuretic
  • ecbolic
  • hemostatic
  • toning

Shepherd’s purse is used in various ways: as tea, tincture or juice. If it is drunk as a tea, it is recommended to pour boiling water over the herbs and let them soak for about 5 to 10 minutes. Higher brewing times can destroy the ingredients and ruin a healing effect.

Buy shepherd’s purse – What is there to pay attention to?

Shepherd’s purse is mostly sold in the form of teas. A number of natural goods retailers offer both the seeds and the dried herb. The prices are quite different for this and are between 10 and 35 €/$ per kilo (2 lbs).

The plants themselves are hard to buy because they are quite common in nature. However, some online retailers offer seeds, so that the herb can be easily cultivated at home. The prices for 1,000 seeds are approximately between 1.50 and 2.50 €/$.

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