Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), one of the world’s most ubiquitous cosmopolitan weeds, presenting here in a truly exceptional infestation on unit pavers. Recorded in Victoria from 1872, the plant is thought to have originated in Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but has been endlessly spread as a contaminant in seed. On arrival in a place, Shepherd’s Purse quickly builds a resilient seedbank that stays viable for decades. The plant is particularly successful wherever disturbance regimes suppress any taller competition which would otherwise quickly overshadow it. In this Northcote laneway, the species is showing its range, proving to be the only plant exploiting the niche provided by joint filler sand and the limited rainshed from the two narrowly separated, featureless building faces. In this manner, it is a perpetual colonist of metropolitan footpath cracks and broken kerbs, although not usually this successfully.

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Search for information about Capsella bursa-pastoris in the Flora of Victoria

View information and occurrences of Capsella bursa-pastoris on the Atlas of Living Australia

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