Shepherds Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is native to eastern Europe and Asia Minor and is now a naturalised and considered a common weed in many parts of the world, especially in colder climates. It belongs to the Brassica family and is related to the mustards. In the UK it grows in waste ground and by the wayside. It has small white-ish flowers and the seeds from which contain mucilage.
Shepherds Purse has a strange odour which is peculiar and rather unpleasant, though more cress-like than pungent. It is so named because the seeds resemble an old fashioned leather purse used once by country workers.
It is also known as Shepherd’s Bag. Shepherd’s Scrip. Shepherd’s Sprout. Lady’s Purse. Witches’ Pouches. Rattle Pouches. Case-weed. Pick-Pocket. Pick-Purse. Blindweed. Pepper-and-Salt. Poor Man’s Parmacettie. Sanguinary. Mother’s Heart. Clappedepouch
Traditional Uses for Shepherds Purse:-
When dried and infused, the plant yields a tea which is still considered by herbalists one of the best specifics for stopping haemorrhages of all kinds – of the stomach, the lungs, or the uterus, and more especially bleeding from the kidneys. It contains Fumaric Acid. It has been used in English domestic practice from the early Medieval perod as an astringent for use in treating diarrhoea and it was much used in a decoction with milk to check active purgings in calves.
It has been used in the past to treat rheumatism but what effect there seems little evidence other than tradition.
It is a general uterine stimulant, diuretic, astringent, anti-haemorrhagic, urinary antiseptic, and is antipyretic.