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Growing and Using the Herb Salad Burnet

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Salad Brunet Leaves

The leaves of salad burnet look like they've been pinked.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Overview:

Salad burnet is a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family. The plant is an attractive perennial grown for both its edible leaves and its medicinal properties. Medicinally, it was once used against the Plague and to control hemorrhaging, but today it is mostly know, medicinally, for its astringent properties.

As an herb, salad burnet offers a clean, cucumber-like flavor. It's an easy growing plant that appears early in the season and holds up well in heat.

Note: Medicinal uses are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please see your doctor, if you have a health problem.

Description:

Salad burnett is a perennial that spreads by rhizomes. It forms a clump and stays pretty well contained and controlled, growing in a loose rosette. Salad burnet will self-seed in your garden, but it is usually easy enough to pull out the unwanted seedlings.
  • Leaves: Rounded, with toothed edges. 4 - 12 pairs of leaves per leaflet.

  • Flowers: Small, dense, purple flowers form on spikes

Latin Name:

Sanguisorba minor (syn. Poterium sanguisorba

Common Name:

Burnet, Salad Burnet, Small Burnet, Garden Burnet

Hardness Zones:

USDA Hardiness Zones 4 - 8

Exposure:

Full sun to Partial shade.

Mature Height:

12 - 18" (h) x 12 - 24" (w)

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest

70 - 100 days to maturity. However, young, tender leaves have the best flavor. You can start harvesting when they reach about 4" tall. The plants can bloom any time from spring to fall, and may not flower at all, if you keep cutting them back.

Suggested Varieties:

I haven't found any named cultivars of salad burnet, but Sanguisorba minor does have a larger cousin, Sanguisorba officinalis, known as Greater Burnet or Official Burnet, that has a similar flavor, with round, red flowers.

Harvesting Salad Burnet:

Harvest leaves as you need them. The young, tender leaves have the best flavor. Harvesting outer leaves of established plants will encourage new growth. Strip the leaves and discard the tough stems. The flavor of Salad Burnet does not hold up well when the leaves are dried, but you can freeze leaves and use them in hot dishes.

Using Salad Burnet:

Use whenever you want to add a cool, cucumber flavor. Leaves can be tossed into salads or used on sandwiches. They make a nice addition to cold drinks, like lemonade and wine spritzers. Use salad burnet to flavor dips and vinegars. Toss leaves into soups, eggs and other hot dishes at the last minute.

Growing Tips:

Soil: Salad burnet is forgiving about poor soil, but it grows best in moderately moist conditions.

Planting: You can start seeds indoors, about 4 weeks before your last frost date, but seed does well when direct seeded in the garden, 2 weeks before the last frost. Cover lightly, with 1/8" soil and keep moist, until it germinates.

Transplant indoors seedlings, after all danger of frost. You can thin direct sown plants to 1 foot apart, using the thinnings in salads.

First year plants will grow to about 8 - 10" tall. Subsequent years will produce larger plants that flower.

Salad burnet can also be divided, in spring or fall, to make new plants.

Maintenance

Pinching and using your salad burnet are the main maintenance chores. Plants left to mature will have tougher, somewhat leaves.

Regular water, at least 1" per week, will help keep the plants cool and productive, into the summer.

Removing the flowers and flower stalks will encourage more leaves and will cut down on self-seeding.

Containers and Inter-Planting

Salad burnet is a nice choice for containers and for planting between other plants. Since it is hardy to USDA Zone 4, it should over winter in containers down to USDA Zone 6. With protection, it may survive colder climates.

Delicate salad burnet works better as an edger, than in the border. Be sure to keep the self-seeders in check.

Pests & Problems:

Few problems plague salad burnet. It can be prone to leaf spot disease, in wet or damp weather. Provide good air circulation and remove affected leaves.

Sources, outside of my garden:

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