Nature's Restaurant:

Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Season: Late Spring to Early Fall

Urban, Rural or Both: Both

For the edible greens of Shepherd's Purse, see the Shepherd's Purse Greens page.

For the edible roots of Shepherd's Purse, see the Shepherd's Purse Roots page.

Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) seeds have been used for a long time, but I have to say, they are quite a bit of work to gather, and it takes a long time to even get a tablespoon of them, however they taste good. You can eat them raw, put in soups, or with baked goods.

Just wait for the little seed pods to turn tan, and take the stem with pods, put in a bag and rub them with your hand inside the bag. Unfortunately, the seeds pods don't mature at the same time. They start maturing from the bottom and work their way up.

Growing this plant in your home garden:

Easy with this one. Find one with brown (mature) seed pods, take them home, break (rub between hands) over the soil where you want them, tamp the area down, and put down a very fine layer of mulch. Done. Each time you see mature seed heads on plants in your garden, just give the mature seed heads a good rub with both hands, and very shortly you will have new ones with fresh greens.

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Shepherd's Purse page.


Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.

sheppards purse seed pods up close sm

Shepherd's Purse stalk with flowers on top and triangular seed pods. This one is still too green for seed harvesting.

sheppards purse basal leaves sm

The base of the Shepherd's Purse plant with the basal leaves forming a circle around the stem.

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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching

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