Benefits of shepherds purse include not only a tasty addition to your salads or stews, but also a medicinal herb that can increase fertility, stop internal hemorrhages and make childbirth easier. Here's some good information on this great little wild plant.
Shepherds purse is a delicate little plant that seldom gets bigger than two feet tall. It has a rosette of leaves at its base with leaves that are rounded initially and then develop a teeth pattern similar to dandelion as the plant matures.
The way to distinguish shepherds purse from a dandelion plant (also an edible wild plant) is by looking at the direction the “teeth” are facing. The teeth of the dandelion leaves point downwards, while the teeth of shepherds purse point upwards.
Shepherds purse will eventually produce a long stem and a delicate 4-petaled white flower. It also produces a triangular-shaped 2-parted seed pod.
Look for Shepherds purse anywhere there is disturbed soil, such as roadsides, lawns and meadows. It will be one of the earliest wild greens to come up in the springtime. In warmer climates, such as the south, it also pops up again in the fall.
You can eat the entire plant, including the flowers and seed pods, but if you are harvesting it for food, shepherds purse is best in the early spring, when it has more leaves and a milder flavor. Like most greens, its flavor grows stronger the older it gets. Also, once shepherds purse starts to flower, it will lose most of its leaves, so there will be less to harvest.
Shepherds purse is a member of the mustard family, so the older it gets, the more of a peppery flavor it develops. If harvested young, it will have a very mild flavor. You can eat the plants raw in salads, steam or saute them or add them to soups and stews.
The benefits of shepherds purse include plenty of vitamin C, A and K, along with some protein and minerals. Because this little plant does have vitamin K, you should not eat this if you are on blood thinners.
Shepherds purse has been known to help with a prolapsed bladder or uterus and may also be able to fight cancer.
You can also harvest the root, dehydrate it, and then ground it up to use as a ginger substitute.
Shepherds purse is a great remedy for women, especially if made and used as a tincture. It can help increase fertility and strengthen uterine contractions during childbirth. It will also help ease a heavy menses.
It will also help ease internal hemorrhaging. Put a few drops of the tincture in your ear to ease an earache.
Because it can stimulate uterine contractions, don't eat this plant if you are pregnant. Also the seeds can give some people dermatitis. So wear gloves if you plan on harvesting the seed pods.