The Shepherd’s Purse is a very common plant, and it is not at all attractive. It is found all summer by the roadside and in waste places.
The flowers grow close together on short stalks near the top of a spike. They are very small, with tiny white petals, and those flowers which grow lowest on the spike always come out first. The buds are in a cluster at the very tip of the spike.
After the flower is withered, the seed-vessel, which still clings to the end of the short stalk, begins to swell. It looks like a small green heart, with a hard knot in the centre. You will easily recognise the Shepherd’s Purse by these seed-vessels, which are far more noticeable than the tiny white flowers.
This plant has two kinds of leaves. Those that grow close to the ground have short stalks, and they spring from the root in the form of a rosette. Each leaf is long and narrow, and the edges are deeply cut up, nearly to the centre vein of the leaf.
But the Shepherd’s Purse has other leaves which grow further up the flower-stem. These are shaped like the head of an arrow, and at the bottom they clasp the stem closely.
Both kinds of leaves are usually hairy all over, and so are the stalks, but sometimes you find plants where they are quite smooth.
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