University of Maryland Extension

Shepherd's purse

(More Lawn Weeds)

Shepherd's purse seedheads
Shepherd's Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris. Photo: U. Mass., Amherst

General description

A winter annual broadleaf weed that spreads by seed. It is a member of the mustard family. Has an upright growth pattern and forms a rosette of dandelion-like leaves at the base. The common name comes from the small, flat, triangular seedpods that have a seam along the middle. In un-mowed areas can grow to 1 ½ feet in height.

Reproduction

Spreads by seed; germination occurs in late summer, early autumn, or early spring.

Management In Lawns

  • Cultural practices
    Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

  • Mechanical Management
    Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.

  • Chemical Treatment in Lawns 
    Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Be aware of these precautions first. 
    If you chose this option, spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients: 
    2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba* or Triclopyr.

    *Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Refer to the product label for precautions. 

  • Organic Lawn Herbicides
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