shepherds purse

Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Photo: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,

Updated: March 3, 2023

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.


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

shepherds purse flowers and seed pods
Shepherd's purse Photo: Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte,

Management in lawns

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

Lawn Care

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. 

Manage Weeds Without Chemicals

Chemical treatment in lawns

If you choose 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. 

Lawn Herbicides for Weed Management