Besides showing an extraordinary degree of phenotypic variability, Capsella bursa-pastoris (Brassicaceae) is also one of the world's most common plant species and a serious weed in many countries. We have employed a coalescent-based Bayesian analysis of chloroplast microsatellite data to infer demographic and evolutionary parameters of this species. Two different demographic models applied to data from seven chloroplast microsatellite loci among 59 accessions show that the effective population size of C. bursa-pastoris is very small indicating a rapid expansion of the species, a result that is in accordance with fossil and historical data. Against this background, analysis of flowering time variation among accessions suggests that ecotypic differentiation in flowering time has occurred recently in the species’ history. Finally, our results also indicate that mononucleotide repeat loci in the chloroplast genome can deteriorate in relatively short periods of evolutionary time.