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Shepsherd's-Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medicus


Family: Brassicaceae

Habit: winter annual


Ecology

Management:

Because shepherd's-purse seedlings are very small and fragile, stirring of the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil 2 to 4 times within the first month following tillage removes many individuals (Weed early & shallow). Since this is primarily a cool season species, rotation with warm season crops like squash and tomato tends to break the life cycle of the weed population. Organic mulch materials are highly effective for suppressing shepherd's-purse since the seedlings are tiny and remain appressed to the ground until flowering. Dense planting helps control this weed in crops that will tolerate high density, particularly if the crops are tall since the weed is always short.

Because the seeds are persistent in the soil, removal of mature plants before they shed seeds is critical for long-term control. Controlling seed production is particularly difficult with this species, however, since it matures rapidly and produces seeds continuously over many weeks (Reproductive styles). Mature plants should be removed from the garden since immature capsules will continue to ripen and shed seeds even after the plant is dead.

Useful Management Techniques