Sanguisorba officinalis is a native of Europe and an old-world herb that is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to the revival of interest in perennial gardens and naturalised form of planting. These vigorous perennials offer contrasting clarity to the softer, less defined forms in the naturalised garden.
With a long flowering-period, an ascending habit and branched structure, Sanguisorba convey a relaxed feel to the garden, indispensable to the modern gardener.
The bobble-headed tall form of Sanguisorba officinalis almost look like grasses seen in profile. In spring, the deciduous, feathery, green foliage emerges and forms attractive groundcover, but it is the summer when the unusual red flowers top the slender, upright stems that it really becomes a head-turner. Perfect for natural style planting schemes, it looks right at home in a swaying sea of grasses. The alluring colour and shape of the flowers creates quite a fervour, especially when grown en masse.
As an herb, the leaves of have a flavour akin to that of cucumber and hence, are very popular as an ingredient in salads. Sanguisorba officinalis are easy to grow, they are happiest in a sunny spot where the soil stays moist. The vigorous, rounded clumps present an airy, cool green arrangement of deeply cut toothed basal leaves around 30cm (12in) in diameter. Come summer, the mood changes when thin, tall branching stems that grow 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) tall, lift the tightly set, blood red bottlebrushes skyward.
Salad Burnet is a hardy perennial plant It which can grow in most soil types but does especially well in chalky soils. The plant grows well in semi shade and full sun.
Sowing: Sow in either in spring or autumn.
Sanguisorba seeds are best sown in a cold frame either in spring or autumn. It usually takes about two months for the seeds to germinate at 10 to 14°C (50 to 55°F). When the seedlings have grown sufficiently enough to be handled, pick them out individually and plant them in separate pots to grow on. Transplant the young plants in their permanent positions outdoors as soon as they have grown to a reasonable size. Set out in early spring or early autumn, three to five plants per square metre and water spring plantings regularly if rain is lacking. Alternately, the seeds may also be sown in situ during the early part of spring.
Sanguisorba prefer to grow in a sunny part of the garden, though in hot areas it may be better to grow in a part of the garden that receives a light shade in the afternoon.
Ideally the soil that plants grow in will be moist, pH 6 to 8, and of an ordinary nature. A site where the soil stays evenly moist is ideal as too-dry conditions can lead to leaf browning.
Although they look delicate, Sanguisorba are quite sturdy and once growing they are fairly easy to care for. Very hardy they are able to endure temperatures around minus 25°C (-13°F). The plants succeed in a position in full sun or in partial shade. They prefer a position with moist soil which does not become parched during the summer. Keep plants, especially spring plantings, well watered when summers are hot.
Supply a stake in windy areas and cut back leaves frequently to encourage further growth.
Keep watering spring plantings regularly if rain is lacking. Established burnets also benefit from watering during dry spells. In early spring apply a generous layer of mulch, remember to do this early in the year as some species may be in bloom by late spring.
Most varieties of Sanguisorba continue flowering into early autumn, at least, and their foliage often takes on bright colours as temperatures cool. Snipping off the spent flower stalks at the base of the plant prevents self-sowing and may extend the bloom season. Or, consider leaving them in place, because the seed heads have the same interesting form as when in bloom, and those on dark-flowered species retain the deep red colour for many weeks.
Once frost turns the plants brown, you can cut them down any time. Scatter a general-purpose organic fertiliser or a shovelful of compost around each clump in late fall to late winter.
Burnets may take a few years to settle in, but after that, they start creeping outward, but only at a moderate rate. They usually need division only every 4 to 6 years, but you can divide them more often if you wish to slow their spread or propagate by division.
Move or divide existing clumps in early spring and space them about 260cm (24in) apart. You can also move or divide existing clumps in autumn too, if you don’t mind cutting short the autumn display. Water new plantings regularly for the first month or so if rain is lacking
The leaves of greater burnet have a flavour akin to that of cucumber and hence, are very popular as an ingredient in salads. The culinary use of Sanguisorba officinalis, the Greater Burnet is related to that of the herb's intimate relation - garden burnet (S. minor), which has been used for long as a seasoning for salads and beverages. One is able to differentiate the garden burnet from the greater burnet on account of the former's smaller size as well as its flower heads that are usually pale to yellowish green having red stigmas that project out on the upper flowers. These red stigmas impart a red gleam to the flowers when they are viewed from some distance. Incidentally, both greater burnet and garden burnet are commonly called salad burnet.
Sanguisorba officinalis grows throughout Europe where it has been used medicinally for over 2000 years. It is also widely distributed in China and its roots are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The plant has been used to prevent hemorrhages and internal bleeding. It has been found that tannins gives the plant its astringent and coagulant properties.
Soldiers of old would drink tea made from the herb before going into battle in hopes that any wounds they received would be less severe. Popular in Tudor gardens, during the sixteenth century, salad burnet, together with twenty other herbs was included in a special wine drunk to stop the plague.
The whole plant is known to have astringent properties, with the root possessing the most astringency. A decoction of the whole herb has been found useful in haemorrhage and is a tonic cordial and sudorific; the herb is also largely used in Herb Beer.
The herb is gathered in July, and the root dug in autumn. The flowers are picked off when they appear, the stem and leaves only of the herb being used
Perennial Borders, Naturalistic planting schemes, Flower arrangements, Low Maintenance, Medicinal and Edible Herb.
Sanguisorba officinalis is native to Western Europe, Mongolia, Japan, China and North America
It grows throughout Europe. In Britain it is not uncommon, but is rare in Ireland. The plant grows in moist meadows and shady places, chiefly in mountainous districts at an altitude of 30 meters to 3,000 meters.
Wild habitats include bushwood, hillside meadow, prairie, meadow and woodland. Although it can grow in dry situations it is commonly associated with damp grasslands such as unimproved hay meadows and marsh meadows or by the edges of rivers and lakes.
Sanguisorba is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Rosaceae, although by simply looking at the flowers you wouldn't guess, it is related to the strawberry and the rose.
Alaskan burnet is usually in full flower through early summer. Japanese Burnet and Great Burnet generally start in midsummer; Oriental Burnet and Canadian Burnet usually begin in late summer.
The genus name sanguisorba comes from the Latin sanguis meaning 'blood', and sorbere, 'to soak up', from the reputed power of these plants to stop bleeding.
When Linnaeus invented the binomial system of nomenclature, he gave the specific name 'officinalis' to plants (and sometimes animals) with an established medicinal, culinary, or other use. The word officinalis is derived from the Latin officina meaning a storeroom (of a monastery) for medicines and necessaries. It literally means 'of or belonging in an officina', and that it was officially recognised as a medicinal herb. It conjures up images of a storeroom where apothecaries and herbalists stored their herbs.
Common names include Greater Burnet, Greater Salad Burnet, Great Burnet, Official Burnet
The word Burnet is from Middle English, from Medieval Latin burneta, from Old French brunete, meaning dark brown, also a diminutive of brun of Germanic origin also meaning brown. The names derive from the dark hue of the plant's flowers.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 200mg Average Seed Count 75 Seeds Family Rosaceae Genus Sanguisorba Species officinalis Common Name Greater Burnet, Di-Yu
Ancient Herb, WIldflower of Britain and Ireland
Other Common Names Greater Salad Burnet, Great Burnet, Official Burnet Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 25°C (-13°F) Natural Flower Time June to September Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spacing Three to five plants per square metre