Synonyms: Bursa djurdjurae, Bursa occidentalis, Capsella rubella, Thlaspi bursa-pastoris.
Common Name: Shepherd’s Purse
Local Name: Shershni (शेर्शनी), Karnsphota.
Shershni is commonly seen growing along roadsides, waysides, in wastelands and meadows, arable land, gardens, waste places etc. It is a very common weed of cultivated soil and found up to an altitude of 700-4000 m in Western Himalaya. It grows well in sunny habitat. Shershni is a very common traditional food plant that gets its common name from its seed pods or ‘purses’ that contain the seeds or ‘coins’. These seeds though tiny have been shershni roasted andground into flour to be used as an ingredient for soups and breads.
Leaves, roots and seeds of shershni are edible. It is one of the earliest wild greens to appear in the spring. Leaves and flowering shoot are edible both raw or cooked. Raw these are used in salad. As green these are used to prepare leafy vegetable saag alone or along with other wild green or with potatoes.
Leaves can also be dried and stored for off season. Green seed are eaten raw and used in soups, these are also dried and powdered to add in soups. The fresh or dried root is a ginger substitute 1.
Shershni is harvested from wild habitat as a source of food and medicine for local personal use by the inhabitants of Western Himalaya.
Annual, eract-ascendind, branched, glabrous or hirsute herbs, 15-45 cm tall.
Radical leaves rosulate, petioleted, entire to pinnatipartite; cauline leaves sessile, with a hastate base, ovate- lanceolate to linear.
Flowers white, 2.5 – 3 mm across, in 5-30 cm long racemose. Sepals oblong, obtuse. Petals oblanceolate, white.
Fruits triangular, flat, glabrous, notched at apex.
Seeds ellipsoid reddish brown to black.
Edible plant parts of Shershni can best be harvested from pre- spring to pre-winter season of the year. Awareness is needed for sustainable harvesting of this plant.
All the parts of this plant leaves, flowering shoot, pods, seeds and roots are edible and used in variety of ways to prepare vegetable, soups, ‘kachru’ etc. Seed are dried and ground into powder and used in soup. Roots are used as ginger substitute. All the plant parts can be dried and preserved to use in off season.
Leafy Vegetable (saag):
Tender shoot tips and leaves of Shershni, 1 kg; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.
Boil chopped leaves till they become soft. Then mesh manually or in a mixer. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This saluted saag is then ready and can be served as such or can be mixed with 2 or 3 chopped onion and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Chopped leaves of shershni, 1/2kg; besan (black gram powder) or corn flour., 250g; fresh coriander leaves,1 cup amount ajwain, 1/2 table spoon; green chillies, 3-5, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions and salt according to taste.
Make a paste of chopped leaves, besan or corn flour and spices. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put this paste over a pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes then kachru will be ready to serve.
leaves, flowering shoot, pods, seeds powder of shershni and other available vegetable ,1/2 kg; mint leaves,10-15(chopped); corn flour, 1 spoon; black pepper powder,1/4 tea spoon, salt acc.to taste.
Boil edible plant parts of Shershni and other chopped vegetable in one-liter water till they are soft, mesh these manually and sieve the extract in a container. Add to it mint leaves, corn flour, Shershni dried seed powder, black pepper and salt, then boil for 5-10 minutes. Now soup is ready to serve.
leaves contain about 2.9% protein, 0.2% fat, 3.4% carbohydrate, 1% ash. They are rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C 2.
Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.
Roots are diuretic, diaphoretic, emetic, emmenagogue and laxative; used in rheumatism, lumbago and nervous diseases3. It is used as a anti –haemorrhagic and anti- uric remedy 3. Used in complaints of hemorrhage from uterine fibroids with aching in back4. Uterine hemorrhage with cramps, expulsion of clots4. Menses too early, too profuse, 8-10-15 days early, tardy in starting, flowered by colic with brick-dust sediments in urine4. Urethritis very useful. Cystitis4. Frequent epistaxis4. Sharp pain over the right eye, while moving the eye upwards 4. A tea made from the whole plant is antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, hypotensive, oxytocic, stimulant, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator and vulnerary5. A tea made from the dried herb is considered to be a sovereign remedy against hemorrhages of all kinds – the stomach, the lungs, the uterus and more especially the kidneys 5.
Plant is used as fodder.
- Facciola. S. (1990): Cornucopia – A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications. ISBN;0-9628087-0-9.
- Singh PB. (2018). Flora of Mandi district. Himachal Pradesh: North West Himalaya.
- Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications,
- Purohit SS, Sharma AK, Prajapati ND, Kumar T. (2009); A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. 2:352-3.
- Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. (1990): A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co.Publication. ISBN;0395467225.