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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

16 January, 2012

Shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

This is a tough little character! Even in the depths of winter you can find Shepherd's-purse in flower. I have no idea what pollenates it at such a difficult time of year for insects but somehow it must be worth this plant flowering.

Normally a weed of cultivation it thrives in gardens, field edges and areas of disturbed earth but it can also grow where there is minimal soil and can be found in roadside gutters and drains and in other bare, waste places. I have even seen it growing on concrete.

The size of the plant does vary considerably, the harsher the conditions the smaller it is, but in summer and in favoiurable soil it can grow to be quite a strong plant.

It is called Shepherd's-purse because the seeds are heart-shaped and look like little purses and this is one of the easiest ways to identify this species. It is a member of the cabbage family (crucifereae) with tiny flowers but the seed 'purses' are much more visible.
Find out more about the nature of Dorset at my website www.natureofdorset.co.uk