DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.
An ever-present resident in most fields, in and around Detroit, is the indomitable Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). You may often walk across it when traipsing through a field in search of bottles to clear, or when laying back in the grass and watching the clouds. Children often see it near “itchy” patches of straw-like greenery. The cheery little pouchettes announce its presence loud and clear to those who know what they mean. Seen as a weed, it is found year round. It has multiple uses for the cook, the curer, and the cunning person.
This green resident is a member of the mustard family. That family is everywhere, and is beloved and hated by landscapers and gardeners, depending on whether they are wielding a pitch, or salad, fork at the time. As an addition to the seasoning stores, it offer an unusual bite to dishes that is just unidentifiable enough to add an interesting stimulation to the palate.
When the seeds are ripe they have a fiery bite that can be utilized as a ‘wild pepper’ – StarChild
This member of the mustard family can be eaten raw or cooked. Add to salad, but do so before it bursts forth with flowers. Believe it or not, it will taste a bit like radish. So you could add it to the cream cheese in your cucumber sandwich spread to go with the dill. Just remember, it contains alkaloids and glucosinolates, so do not try to make it a daily food. Try a tasty Korean dish called Naengi Muchim here at Walk the Peninsula’s blog.
As a side note of extra coolness for any young gardener’s into that sort of thing, it actually is a predator of sorts, as its seeds are photocarnivorous.
For our healers among us, this is a member of the Cruciferae family known to help with hemorrhages in its powdered form. Seek out training from a competent and experienced teacher to learn the proper applications of this herb so you can add it to your cache of remedy options.
“The decoction or infusion can be used in cases of hematuria, hemorrhoids, chronic diarrhea and dysentery. Cotton swabs dipped in the infusion and inserted into the nostrils have been used to stop nasal bleeding. Its anti-inflammatory actions are helpful in relieving pain in cases of rheumatism” – Home Remedies for you
As always, use caution and good sense before you just go around applying any herb to anything. Don’t you have any home training? You do not just go shoving things into your face. Lord and Lady love a duck. That also goes for your Lady Garden. Pregnant persons mustn’t mess about with this lovely long leaved legend.
Do your research. Dr. Paul Haider – Master Herbalist has a good column on this plant’s uses at Om Times.
*Remember when I said you can find it near itchy plants? Well, some folks have been said to use it to help with our old friend Poison Ivy’s gift. Just saying, pay attention to where nature stocks Her cabinets.
Magickally, I suspect our good cousin the Doctrine of Signatures has been at play a bit. It’s traditional usage to protect against poverty and use for employment might be attributed to its purse-like seed pockets being so close to purses. It is also said to help protect against maladies that induce bleeding, which is interesting since it has styptic qualities. Mother’s also can include it to help protect children against sickness during the year.
Gather the plant on a Thursday for this purpose, then, if you are doing your money making Macarena. Because it has a rosette at its base, I suggest dividing it for drying. The paper bag method, hanging from the hanger in a sunny window, would yield very good results.
Enjoy this song Shepherd’s Purse by MIKIKO A-LA-MATA.