Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shepherd's Purse

Another annual ruderal species which is common round us in Sussex. It is appropriate to find it on the Downs, whose landscape and habitats are a direct result of sheep grazing over millennia, for it is known as Shepherd's purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris. It is a member of the mustard family, Brassiaceae and not a native but an archeophyte. 
An archeophyte is a naturalised plant introduced before 1492 (yes, Columbus and all that) whereas after that date such plants are known as neophytes. 
The reason for its common name (a direct translation of the Latin specific) is the shape of the seed pods apparently resembling the purse carried by shepherds. Which shepherds and when is hard to discover.

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