Salad Burnet

There are about 18 species of rhizomatous perennials in this genus, which occurs throughout northern temperate regions. Sanguisorba officinalis is grown as a border plant for its elegant foliage and small bottlebrush flowers. It contains unique tannins, glycosides (sanguisorbins), and gum. Use of the roots was first recorded in Chinese medicine in the Shen Nong Canon of Herbs during the Han dynasty (206BCE-CE23). Western medicine favors the leafy parts. Culpeper described its astringent qualities graphically: "to stauch bleeding inward or outward, lasks, scourings, the bloody flux, women's too abundant flux of courses, the whites, and the choleric belchings and castings of the stomach, and is a wound-herb for all sorts of wounds, both of the head and body either inward or outward, for all old sores, running cankers, and moist sores". Sanguisorba comes from the Latin sanguis "blood", and sorbere, "to soak up", and refers to the use of these plants to control bleeding.

Erect, clump-forming perennial with pinnate leaves, to 15cm (6in) long, divided into 4-12 pairs of rounded-elliptic, toothed leaflets, about 2cm (¾in) long. Tiny green flowers with maroon stamens are produced in rounded spikes, to 2.5cm (1in) long, from late spring to late summer.

Common Name:
Salad Burnet
Botanical Name:
Sanguisorba minor
Native Location:
S, W, and C Europe, N Africa, Canary Islands, W and C Asia
Moist, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.
Propagate by seed sown in autumn or spring; by division in autumn or spring.
Leafy parts are cut before flowers open and dried for use in infusions, liquid extracts, and tinctures. Roots are lifted in autumn and dried for decoctions.
Parts Used:
A cooling herb with a cucumber flavor.
Culinary Uses:
Young leaves and leaflets are added to salads, sandwiches, soups, soft cheeses, and summer drinks; also used as garnish. Dried leaves are made into tea.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown Copyright © 1995,2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pg. 358