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Capsella Bursa

Botanical Name : Capsella bursa-pastoris – (L.)Medik.

Family : Brassicaceae

Introduction :

Capsella bursa-pastoris, known as shepherd’s purse because of its triangular flat fruits, which are purse-like, is a small annual and ruderal flowering plant in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor, but is naturalized and considered a common weed in many parts of the world, especially in colder climates, including British Isles, where it is regarded as an archaeophyte, North America and China, but also in the Mediterranean and North Africa. C. bursa-pastoris is the second-most prolific wild plant in the world, and is common on cultivated ground and waysides and meadows.

Scientists have referred to this species as a ‘protocarnivore’, since it has been found that its seeds attract and kill nematodes as a means to locally enrich the soil.

Names in different Indian languages :

English : Shepherd’s purse

Others : Blind Weed,Shepherd’s Purse,Cocowort

Synonyms :

Bursa bursa-pastoris Shafer

Bursa djurdjurae Shull

Bursa fracticruris Borbás

Bursa grandiflora Kuntze

Bursa nana (Baumg.) Borbás

Bursa occidentalis Shull

Bursa orientalis Shull

Bursa pastoris Weber

Bursa penarthae Shull

Bursa rubella Druce

Bursa tuscaloosae Shull

Bursa viguieri Shull

Capsella agrestis Jord.

Capsella alpestris Miégev.

Capsella apetala Opiz

Capsella batavorum E.B. Almq.

Capsella bursa-pastoris subsp. bursa-pastoris

Capsella bursa-pastoris subsp. eu-bursa Briq.

Capsella bursa-pastoris subsp. occidentalis (Shull) Maire

Capsella bursa-pastoris var. integrifolia DC.

Capsella bursa-pastoris var. minuta Post

Capsella concava E.B. Almq.

Capsella heegeri Solms.

Capsella hyrcana Grossh.

Capsella lycia Stapf

Capsella mediterranea E.B. Almq.

Capsella patagonica E.B. Almq.

Capsella penarthae (Shull) Wilmott

Capsella polymorpha Cav.

Capsella ruderalis Jord.

Capsella stenocarpa (Crép.) Timb.-Lagr.

Capsella thomsonii Hook.f.

Capsella treviorum E.B. Almq.

Capsella turoniensis E.B. Almq.

Capsella viguieri Blaringhem

Lepidium bursa-pastoris (L.) Willd.

Nasturtium bursa-pastoris (L.) Roth

Solmsiella heegeri (Solms-Laub.) Borbás

Thlaspi bursa-pastoris L..

Morphology :

Annual herbs, sparsely branched, erect, to 30 cm high, glabrous. Basal leaves 6-14 x 2-3.5 cm, short-stalked, rosulate, oblong-lanceolate or spathulate, pinnatipartite; cauline ones 1-7 x 0.2-2 cm, ovate-lanceolate, amplexicaul, serrate-dentate or entire, acute at apex. Racemes congested at anthesis, much elongate at maturity, to 25 cm long in fruit; pedicels spreading to horizontal. Sepals oblong, obtuse, ca 2 x 1 mm, usually green. Petals 4, spreading, lanceolate, 2-3 x 0.5-1 mm, white. Fruits obcordate to 3-angled, laterally compressed, scarcely attenuate at base, slightly emarginate at apex with a wide apical notch, 5-9 x 3.5-6 mm; seeds numerous, minute, ca 1 mm long, reddish brown to black.

Distribution & Habitat :

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.

It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Uses :

Shepherd’s purse is little used in herbalism, though it is a commonly used domestic remedy, being especially efficacious in the treatment of both internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea etc[4, 222]. A tea made from the whole plant is antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, hypotensive, oxytocic, stimulant, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator and vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 13, 21, 46, 147, 165, 172, 176, 222]. A tea made from the dried herb is considered to be a sovereign remedy against haemorrhages of all kinds – the stomach, the lungs, the uterus and more especially the kidneys[4, 222]. The plant can be used fresh or dried, for drying it is harvested in the summer[9]. The dried herb quickly loses its effectiveness and should not be stored for more than a year[9]. Clinical trials on the effectiveness of this plant as a wound herb have been inconclusive[244]. It appears that either it varies considerably in its effectiveness from batch to batch, or perhaps a white fungus that is often found on the plant contains the medically active properties[244]. The plant has been ranked 7th amongst 250 potential anti-fertility plants in China[218]. It has proven uterine-contracting properties and is traditionally used during childbirth[222]. The plant is a folk remedy for cancer – it contains fumaric acid which has markedly reduced growth and viability of Ehrlich tumour in mice[218]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant[4]. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and urinary calculus[7]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s Purse for nose bleeds, premenstrual syndrome, wounds & burns (see [302] for critics of commission E).

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