Illustrated Guide to
of New Zealand
Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
Zealand Plant Protection Society
Publication or other use of images or descriptive
text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is
obtained from the authors and publisher.
of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always
Available from Touchwood
forming a flat rosette with very variable, lobed leaves. The flowering
stem grows up to 30 cm tall from the rosette, and has small, white
flowers and the very characteristic heart- or 'purse'-shaped seed
White, 2.5-3 mm in diameter, with four small, white, undivided
petals, and four green sepals half the length of the petals. Flowers
on slender, spreading stalks at the top of the flower stem. Flowers
Distinctive heart-shaped capsules, 6-9 mm long, greenish-brown,
on long stalks. Capsules split when ripe into two valves releasing
many tiny pale brown seeds.
Basal rosette leaves deeply lobed to entire, 5-20 cm long, narrowed
towards the stalk. The arrow-shaped and toothed stem leaves have
ear-like projections clasping the stem. The leaves, even on small
seedlings, have scattered, star-shaped hairs, visible with a hand
Erect, thin, branched, 15-30 cm tall.
cultivated land and bare ground.
NZ and the offshore islands. Originally from Europe.
Very common in cultivated
soil everywhere in NZ, more common in winter, but can germinate
and grow at any time of the year if moisture is adequate. The
plants are commonly infected with a white rust fungus. Shepherd's
purse is apparently renowned among herbalists for its ability
to check bleeding.
of botanical name
(Lat.) = little sachet; bursa-pastoris (Lat.) =
shepherd's purse, referring to the distinctive seed pods.