SHEPHERD'S PURSE MOTHER'S HEART
(Bursa Bursa-pastoris; Capsella Bursa-pastoris of Gray)
Flowers - Small, white, in a long loose raceme, followed by
triangular and notched (somewhat heart-shaped) pods, the valves
boat-shaped and keeled. Sepals and petals 4; stamens 6; 1 pistil.
Stem: 6 to 18 in. high, from
a deep root. Leaves: Forming a
rosette at base, 2 to 5 in. long, more or less cut (pinnatifid),
a few pointed, arrow-shaped leaves also scattered along stem and
partly clasping it.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, roadsides, waste places.
Flowering Season - Almost throughout the year.
Distribution - Over nearly all parts of the earth.
>From Europe this little low plant found its way, to become the
commonest of our weeds, so completing its march around the globe.
At a glance one knows it to be related to the alyssum and
candy-tuft of our gardens, albeit a poor relation in spite of its
vaunted purses - the tiny, heart-shaped seed-pods that so rapidly
succeed the flowers. What is the secret of its successful march
over the face of the earth? Like the equally triumphant
chickweed, it is easily satisfied with unoccupied wasteland, it
avoids the fiercest competition for insect trade by prolonging
its season of bloom far beyond that of any native flower, for
there is not a month in the year when one may not find it even in
New England in sheltered places. Having vanquished in the fiercer
struggle for survival in the Old World, it finds life here one
long holiday; and finally, by clustering a large number of
relatively small flowers together, it attracts the insects that
this method of arrangement pleases best, the flies (Syrphidae and
Muscidae) which cross-fertilize it in fine weather, transferring
enough pollen from plant to plant to save the species from
degeneracy through close inbreeding. However, the long stamens
standing on a level with the stigma are well calculated to
self-pollenize the flowers, the flies failing them.
Previous: TWOLEAVED TOOTHWORT CRINKLEROOT
Next: VERNAL WHITLOWGRASS
|ADD TO EBOOK