Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Thlaspi bursa pastoris

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Capsella o Nasturtium bursa-pastoris


Capsella from capsa= little box or little bag
Bursa Pastoris=shepherd purse


Traditional name

Used parts

Whole plant.
Mother Tincture Q


Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Dilleniidae; Capparales; Cruciferae / Brassicaceae - Mustard Family



Original proving

Capsella bursa pastoris. Thlaspi bursa pastoris. Shepherd's purse. Tinct. of plant.
     Fincke: Tr. I. H. A., 1895.
     Macfarlan: High Pot. Provings. Hom. Phys., V. 12, pp. 279, 524; V. 13, pp. 288, 383, 385, 389, 391, 433, 491, 527; V. 14, p. 18.

Description of the substance

A glabrous or hairy herb with long and tapering root, 15 to 20 cm tall, sparingly branched: Basal leaves oblong, 5 to 10 cm long, pinnately lobed, cauline leaves much smaller, lanceolate to linear, entire or denticulate, auriculate at base; recemes at anthesis congested, at maturity, greatly elongate. Often forming half the total height of the plant, pedicels at maturity widely spreading, 1 to 2 cm long. Flowers 2 mm wide; petals about twice as long as the sepals. Fruit obcordate triangular, 5 to 8 cm long. The lateral margins straight or outwardly curved.

This intrusive little annual grows to a height of from 6 to 18 inches. Root tap - shaped. Stem erect, simple, or branching at the summit, smooth or sometimes pubescent. Leaves mostly rosulate at the root, pinnatifid or pinnatifidly toothed; stem leaves sessile and partly clasping, more or less sagittate, toothed or in some cases entire, especially those at the base of the racemes. Inflorescence apparently a dense cluster at the summit of the stem, but as fruiting advances showing a racemose arrangement; flowers minute, white; pedicels long, especially in fruit. Sepals ovate, long - pointed, and having inserted about their middle a filamentous appendage. Petals spatulate. Anthers sagittate. Style short; stigma capitate. Silicle obcordate triangular, flattened contrary to the septum; valves 2, scaphoid, wingless. Seeds numerous; cotyledons plane, incumbent. Read description of Cruciferae under Sinapis alba, 23.

This European immigrant has become too thoroughly a nuisance as a weed about the cultivated lands of this country from Florida northward and westward, where it flowers from earliest spring to September.
This plant was formerly classed with the genus Thlaspi, from which it was removed on account of its wingless valves.
The fresh plant, gathered when the flowering season is about half completed and the fruits rapidly forming, is chopped and pounded to a pulp and weighed. Then two - thirds by weight of alcohol is taken, the pulp thoroughly mixed with the spirit and the whole pressed out in a piece of new linen. The tincture thus prepared has, after filtration, an orange - brown color by transmitted light, a peculiar odor, resembling decayed vegetation, a pungent taste, too like its odor, and an acid reaction.

Shepherd's Purse is so called from the resemblance of the flat seed-pouches of the plant to an old-fashioned common leather purse. It is similarly called in France Bourse de pasteur, and in Germany Hirtentasche .
The Irish name of 'Clappedepouch' was given in allusion to the begging of lepers, who stood at cross-roads with a bell or clapper, receiving their alms in a cup at the end of a long pole.

It is a common weed of the Cruciferous order, said to be found all over the world and flourishing nearly the whole year round.

A native of Europe, the plant has accompanied Europeans in all their migrations and established itself wherever they have settled to till the soil. In John Josselyn's Herbal it is one of the plants named as unknown to the New World before the Pilgrim Fathers settled there.

It will flourish and set seed in the poorest soil, though it may only attain the height of a few inches. In rich soil it luxuriates and grows to 2 feet in height.

The plant is green, but some what rough with hairs. The main leaves, 2 to 6 inches long, are very variable in form, either irregularly pinnatifid or entire and toothed. When not in flower, it may be distinguished by its radiating leaves, of which the outer lie close to the earth.

The slender stem, which rises from the crown of the root, from the centre of the rosette of radical leaves, is usually sparingly branched. It is smooth, except at the lower part, and bears a few, small, oblong leaves, arrow-shaped at the base, and above them, numerous small, white, inconspicuous flowers, which are self-fertilized and followed by wedge-shaped fruit pods, divided by narrow partitions into two cells, which contain numerous oblong yellow seeds. When ripe, the pod separates into its two boat-shaped valves.

The odour of the plant is peculiar and rather unpleasant, though more cress-like than pungent.

It has an aromatic and biting taste, but is less acrid than most of the Cruciferae, and was formerly used as a pot-herb, the young radical leaves being sold in Philadelphia as greens in the spring. It causes taint of milk when freely eaten by dairy cattle.