Common shepherd's purse


The common shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), also known as shepherd's purse, is a member of the cruciferous family. The name refers to the fact that the small pods look like the shoulder bags used by shepherds in the past.


The dried above-ground parts of the plant - leaves, stems, flowers and fruits - collected at flowering time are used medicinally.

Important constituent groups are flavonoids (including diosmin, which is used for quality control), biogenic amines, amino acids and proteins.

In folk medicine, shepherd's purse is used in the broadest sense to stop bleeding. The documented traditional medical use relates to the symptomatic treatment of menorrhagia (menstruation that is too heavy and lasts too long) and metrorrhagia (bleeding outside the menstrual cycle). External use is also reported, for example for local treatment of nosebleeds, haemorrhoids and to stop bleeding from skin injuries.

Traditional herbal medicines are used today for heavy menstrual bleeding in women with a normal menstrual cycle if a serious illness can be ruled out. For this purpose, either cut shepherd's purse herb is used as a tea preparation or industrially produced extracts are used in finished medicinal products. It should be taken 3-5 days before menstruation.

In the kitchen, shepherd's purse is sometimes used as a wild salad.


The common shepherd's purse is an annual or biennial herb from the cruciferous family (Brassicaceae). It roots up to one metre deep. Upright, sparsely branched stems up to 60 centimetres high with a basal rosette of leaves spring from this root. The basal leaves are short-stalked, undivided to pinnately lobed and unevenly serrated, the stem leaves are lanceolate and stalkless.

The flowers are typical four-petalled cross flowers. Their 2-3 cm long, white petals protrude far beyond the green calyx. After pollination, the fruits are heart-shaped pods with convex or straight edges and a long fruit stalk. These pods are up to one centimetre long and contain numerous seeds - a single individual can produce up to 64,000 of them. They remain germinable in the soil for up to 30 years. They are spread by wind and rainwater or by birds and other small mammals.

Shepherd's purse prefers a fresh and nutrient-rich, humus-rich loamy soil with plenty of sun or at least partial shade.


The common shepherd's purse is a cosmopolitan and widespread throughout the world in temperate and mountainous tropical regions. It reproduces mainly by self-pollination and is therefore not dependent on pollination by bees, making its population very robust. The plant grows on nutrient-rich soils, especially in gardens and fields as a weed and in ruderal areas such as rubble heaps and mounds.


The preservation of diversity is very important to us, which is why we store around 5,400 samples of seeds and plants in our gene bank . With the gene bank for agricultural crops, medicinal and aromatic plants, we are making a significant contribution to the preservation of biodiversity.

Last updated: 17.04.2024

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