Salad Burnet (Small Burnet), Sanguisorba minor
Looks like parsley, tastes like a cucumber, and a great plant for those wide open clearings between forest groves—or that open sunny spot in the middle of your backyard. i
- Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 8 (can withstand cold down to -30° F, or -34° C)
- Soil PH: 6.8ii (but can take up to 8.0)iii
- Watering needs: Average (Prefers evenly moist soil, but it adjusts its water efficiency based on the environment it lives in, and has been known to tolerate drought)
- Blooming Season: Late spring
- Harvest season: Anytime, but the earlier the better for flavor. Early spring is probably preferred, since the leaves taste best before the flower arrives.
- Harvest age: 2 – 3 months.
- Pollination for Seed: No other salad burnet plant is needed to get seed.iv
- Size at maturity: 1 – 2 feet (.5 meters) tall and wide.
- Sun needs: Full sun only (said to be intolerant of shade.)
- Preferred habitat: Salad burnet loves the grasslands and shrublands of Europe, even growing in chalk.v Also grows well in sagebrush and juniper ecosystems.vi
- Growth rate (vigor): Fast
- Reproductive rate (and methods): High, by both seed and root rhizomes.
- Average life span: 7 – 20 years
- Plant family: Rosaceae
Though we’ve classified small burnet as a ground cover, it can sometimes occupy the herb layer, depending on several factors. But since the primary harvestable part of the plant is leaves and young shoots, it can be trimmed to encourage either shape/size.
Salad burnet has a subtle, tart, sweet cucumber-like flavor that is delicious for soups, salads, cheeses, and sandwiches. It’s delicate, attractive leaves (reminiscent of parsley) also make it a nice garnish for drinks and entrees.
Most people agree that the flavor is enhanced by chilling.vii
While salad burnet would probably not be considered a staple food, but rather a leafy green, it can nevertheless be enjoyed in quantity in salad, or used to add flavor to other foods. It has been eaten for its health benefits in the middle east, Asia, and Europe for thousands of years.
As a leafy green, salad burnet leaves are a source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and is said to have anti-inflammatory properties.viii As far as its more medicinal uses, they tend to come from the use of the root instead of the leaves. As with other medicinal uses of plants, it is recommended that medical treatments of any kind be fully researched and discussed with your doctor before application.
So for now, enjoy the general health benefits of this tasty herb.
iImage by Phyzome on Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salad_burnet_leaves_in_March.jpg