Burnet/salad burnet – characteristics, cultivation and use

Burnet flower
Burnet flower

Burnet or salad burnet is a well-known herb used in the kitchen, especially for sauces, salads or cheese specialties. The leaves are healthy and contain mainly vitamins, minerals and tannins. In medicine, however, the plant is rarely needed. Burnet gives rise to many confusions, because the name burnet is used both for the kitchen herb salad burnet and for the burnet-saxifrage, an umbellifer. Here on this page is described the salad burnet, a mild spicy salad herb, which can be found in many gardens.

Profile of burnet:

Scientific name: Sanguisorba minor

Plant family: rose family (Rosaceae)

Other names: salad burnet, garden burnet, small burnet

Sowing time / Planting time: April – June

Flowering period: May – August

Harvest time: May – September

Location: sunny and warm

Soil quality: nutrient-poor and loose soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: stomach upset, mild stomach cramps, spring tiredness, sunburn

Use as aromatic herb: sauces, soups, savory salads, herbal quark, herb butter

Plant characteristics and classification of burnet

Origin and occurrence of the Burnet

The original area of origin of the burnet is Central and Southern Europe. Consequently, it is a native plant to Europe, western Asia and Siberia, and northern Africa. Most North American populations originated in Europe. Burnet prefers low-nutrient and rather dry locations and is often found on slopes, fallow land, roadsides or wastelands as a pioneer plant.

In mountainous areas, they are usually found up to 1,400 m (4,600 feet) in Europe, whereas in North America it can be found up to 2,700 m ( 8,900 feet). The plant has been introduced to distant regions through human influence over the years. So you can find them today wild in many parts of America and sometimes in Australia and New Zealand.

Plant order of burnet

Burnet belongs to the species-rich family of the rose family (Rosaceae), which also includes agrimony and meadowsweet. The genus of the burnets (Sanguisorba) counts about 25 species. Well known as well is the great burnet, which is also used as a spice and medicinal plant.

There are a few subspecies of burnet, which usually differ only in the infructescence. These include

  • Sanguisorba minor ssp. minor (the subspecies native to Europe and North America)
  • Sanguisorba minor ssp. balearica (subspecies found in the northern Mediterranean)
  • Sanguisorba minor ssp. verrucosa (occurring in southern Mediterranean subspecies)

Look and characteristics of burnet


Burnet is a perennial forb that reaches heights of growth between 30 and 60 cm (12 and 24 in). In the ground the plant forms deep red to dark brown taproots, which can branch out laterally. The plant is a deep-rooting plant.


The leaves of burnet have a pinnate form with serrated leaf margins. As usual for rose plants, the leaves are always arranged in pairs or mutually on the round light green to brownish stems. The plant forms a basal leaf rosette in the first year of its life.


Burnet form globular flower heads during flowering, which is generally expected between late May and mid-August. Each roundish flower head consists of numerous separate-sexed flowers. In the upper area are the female, usually pink colored flowers. In the middle there are isolated hermaphrodite flowers and in the lower part the male flowers, which are indicated by strongly drooping anthers. The flowers of the burnet are each tetramerous (four-counting). Burnet is pollinated by bees.


After flowering, the plant forms cup-shaped fruits (hypanthium) that contain several brownish, clearly structured and small (3 to 5 mm) seeds.

Burnet / salad burnet
Burnet / salad burnet

Burnet – cultivation and care

The herb has become more in focus in recent years and is often grown as a garden plant. The cultivation and care of the plant is simple, as far as site conditions and nutrient preferences are met.


Burnet likes especially sunny and warm locations, which may tolerate partially shaded locations. In partially shaded spots, however, the plant will rarely grow tall and hardly develop aromatic leaves. The soil should be rather nutrient-poor, loose and calcareous. If possible, the soil should be able to store moisture.


Although burnet is a perennial plant, it is not particularly long-lived. Therefore, you should either rejuvenate it by division every two to three years, or displant and sow it again. You can also mature the seeds and let them sow themselves – this saves a lot of work, especially since the burnet in this regard is really very willing to reproduce. Furthermore, it is not a problem to grow this plant again and again in the same place. The division, however, is much more complicated, the Pimpinelle can be difficult to implement due to the long and pronounced tap root.


For division, the taproot must not be injured under any circumstances, otherwise the plant will die. It is better, however, to remove many small parts with root system and re-plant. The smaller the individual parts, the better they usually grow. The best time for a division is the early spring.


The sowing of burnet seeds can take place from the beginning of April to mid-June. Since the germ temperature has to be at least 15 ° C (59 ° F), should be sown only when no frost days are to be expected. The seeds are sown directly in the field and only slightly pressed. Burnet needs light to germ. The seed spacing should be about 5 cm (2 in). Water regularly and keep the seeds moist. The germination period is usually between 12 and 21 days. After germination, the seedlings should be replanted, so that the maximum planting distance is at least 20 cm (8 in) from each other.

Burnet is less suitable for pot-growing. If the plant is cultivated on the balcony, very deep pots are to be preferred.


As a light feeder, the burnet needs very little nutrients. This should also be taken into account, as the plant reacts very sensitively to over-fertilization and develops soft shoots and pale leaves. It is sufficient to mix a few amounts of compost in the soil in the spring. Even weak natural fertilizers such as coffee grounds or very low amount of cattle manures can be used. If the plant grows in a container, a weak herbal fertilizer is sufficient. Incorporated once or twice a year in small quantities is enough.


Since burnet likes moderately moist soils, the soil should also be watered regularly. Waterlogging should be avoided in any case, as this can lead to root rot and as a consequence for die back. Ingredients, such as expanded clay, pumice, zeolite, which are incorporated slightly deeper in the ground (up to 30 cm (12 in)), can help with waterlogging. Otherwise, it should be ensured on very hot days that the soil never completely dries out.

Diseases and pests

In principle burnet is a very robust plant. Occasionally, the plant is attacked by aphids, which in most cases do not harm the plant. The lice can be washed off or treated with a stinging nettle. Occasionally, burnets can become rusty. The rust fungus usually appears after mild winters with following humid and warm summers. The rust show up through small orange-red spots on the leaves. If individual plants are affected, you should either cut them back to the healthy plant parts or remove them completely from the garden. Single infected leaves should be picked immediately, fallen leaves are thoroughly swept up and disposed of. Excessive drought can lead to the infestation of powdery mildew.


The plant is hardy and usually withstands even severe winters without major problems. Wintering in the garden works without problems, with the above-ground parts normally dying off. The dead parts can be cut in late autumn, but it is usually better to leave them and cut off only in early spring. They facilitate the wintering of the burnet and serve as food for the roots. In mild winters, it can also happen that the herb does not die, but instead continues to grow and develop new leaves.


Pick the young, tender leaves continuously and as needed. Always process the young leaves fresh and do not cook them. You can also dry, freeze or use it to aromatize vinegar.

Use of Burnet

Burnet as a kitchen herb

The leaves of burnet are considered excellent culinary herb. The taste is very spicy, subtly nutty, has a slightly cucumber-like aroma and a subtly bitter undertones. Its aroma is usually more intense if the plant does not bloom.

When using burnet, the leaves should not be exposed to high temperatures. The taste is increasingly lost by heating. The leaves should therefore always be used only after cooking or basically uncooked.

The leaves can be chopped and processed excellently in cream cheese and herb quark.

The herb can also be used well for salads. For example, burnet is excellent for cucumber, tomato salads and mixed salads.

Burnet should be used fresh. Leaves that are not needed can be chopped, placed in a storage box and frozen. In this case, the herb keeps up to half a year.

Burnet as a medicinal herb

In contrast to the great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is rarely used in herbal medicine. Nevertheless, the plant has interesting ingredients that justify a healing effect.

Both plants were described as a medicinal plant in older herbal books, but only a few applications were known. In some old herbal books, the herb is recommended especially for menstrual problems and fistulas.

Burnet can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • cuts
  • bladder stones
  • indigestion
  • internal bleeding
  • intestinal inflammation
  • liver weakness
  • oral mucositis
  • promoting milk
  • skin problems
  • spring fever
  • sun allergy
  • sunburn

Medicinal properties

  • antispasmodic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • astringent
  • carminative
  • diuretic
  • draining
  • hemostatic
  • sweaty
  • toning

In folk medicine, both the leaves and the root are used. The main dosage forms are a tea from the leaves and a broth from the roots of the plant.

Applied externally, it relieves skin problems and sunburn.

As a tea, burnet helps inwardly against weaknesses of the digestive organs and the urinary tract.

Preparation of a burnet tea

  • put 4 to 5 teaspoons of fresh herb or leaves ina cup
  • dash wth hot but not boiling water
  • let steep for about 6 to 10 minutes
  • sip before meals

Side effects and instructions for use

Side effects when consuming burnet are not expected.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Burnet – What is there to pay attention to?

Due to the increasing popularity of burnet as a kitchen herb, there are increasingly seed and fresh plants on offer. Dried leaves, e.g. for medical applications, however, are rarely found, maybe online.

Seeds and fresh plants can be bought in DIY markets, from specialized traders or online. Plants should be examined for rust and mildew. It should be noted that the plantlets are quickly replanted since the roots need a lot of space to grow.

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