Freitag, 22. April 2011

Plant of the Day (April 22nd, 2011) - Capsella bursa-pastoris

At this Good Friday I want to introduce you to a species which belongs to a family we never had before in this Blog.

It's Capsella bursa-pastoris L. Medik. from the Brassicaceae (also known as Cruciferaceae in older books). In German we called this family “Kreuzblütten-Gewächse” (cross-flower plants) in Englisch you may know them as crucifers.

 C. bursa-pastoris L. - Habitus

Capsella bursa-pastoris L. is a small herb with tiny flowers with four white petals, which are arranged like a cross, which gave the family it's name. The sepals are green and inconspicuous. The foliage-leaves are arrow shaped and stem comprising.

The best feature to recognize Capsella bursa-pastoris L. however are the fruits. The Brassicaceae have a special form of fruits, which is called pod ("Schote" in German). The form of the pods is an important distinctive feature of the Brassicaceae for identifying.. In this case C. bursa-pastoris has small, inverted triangular shaped pods.

C. bursa-pastoris L. - closer look at the pods

The fruits also given the species its Latin name: “Capssella” means capsule (or pod), “bursa” bag and “pastoris” shepherd, that means, that the fruits are looking like the bag of a shepherd. In English it's commonly known as “shepherd's-purse” and in German as “Hirtentäschelkraut” (“shepherd's bag” herb), which are both translations of the Latin name.
 
C. bursa-pastoris can be found on ruderal places like bushs, at  industrial wasteland or in wild flower beds at roadsides.It prefers areas rich of nutrients..

C. bursa-pastoris L. - Habitus

Many of today's crops belong to the family of the Brassicaceae, e. g. cabbage (Brassica oleracea convar. capitata var. alba), cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.) or rape (Brassica nappus L.) and also many spices like garden cress (Lepdidium sativum L.)or wasabi (Wasabia japonica Matsum.). They are used for meal, as spice and also as producers of natural oil.

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