Purse of the Shepherd

More early spring plants are clamoring to be charted. Henbit needs its constant companion and fellow European import, Shepherd’s Purse. The slanty Latin name is Capsella bursa-pastoris, literally, “purse of the shepherd.”

Like the Draba I started this project with, Shepherd’s Purse is a member of the Brassicaceae or Mustard Family. It has the typical cross-shaped, four-petaled flowers, and the fruits are silicles. A silicle is a special sort of capsule–two-chambered, with the two halves of the fruit falling away from the persistent central partition (whose fancy name is replum). Apparently, the heart-shaped fruits of Capsella look like the pouches shepherds used to wear on their belts, and the tiny golden seeds inside are the coins. The plant has a basal rosette of lobed or toothy leaves, with unlobed leaves farther up the stem. Many people mistake the heart-shaped fruit for leaves.

It’s a humble plant of roadsides and waste places, content not to have the showiest flowers, and happy to be useful in a number of herbal remedies. Supposedly it’s good for cramps. Whether it was introduced as weed seeds in grain or deliberately as a medicinal is not known for certain.

I like to use the little heart-shaped fruits when I make pressed-flower arrangements, especially if I’m framing someone’s wedding invitation for them.

This plant was fun to draw, right up until I got to all the fruit. It was tricky to get the stalks to array themselves naturally without too much overlapping. In life, they’d be borne all around the stem, but for clarity, they pretty much have to go to the side.

The buds are uppermost, then opened flowers, then just developing fruits, with mature fruits and the remnant, membranous replums at the bottom of the flowering stalk.

The design calls for a LOT of backstitching, which won’t be so much fun to stitch and which was a bear to chart on my tiny graph paper.

(Why yes, those are little bits of Arenaria up at the top. There’s no sense in wasting graph paper!)

This is another plant whose flowers just disappear on a white background, along with a good bit of the backstitching. This is a color-block mockup of what it will look like on a golden fabric.

Well, it is gold in the charting program, all right?

This is what it might look like stitched.

Once again, colors, blah, blah, blah. Here is the “floss toss” for all of the greens:

It will be much brighter and springier in person.

I’m reasonably happy with this one. The leaves are very Gerda, the flowers, not so much. What is exciting, though, is the thought about what a dozen or two of these charted flowers are going to look like all in the same piece. Here’s a tiny taste:

This will be SO much prettier and crisper stitched up. I can’t wait!