Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor; Rosaceae)

Description

A decorative, hardy, herbaceous perennial, low growing, with flower stems to 1 — 1 ½ ft (30—45 cm). The toothed leaves are pinnate and nearly evergreen, and purple-tinted round heads of tiny green flowers come all summer. Origin, Europe; native to this country.

Uses

Mainly for the leaves which are cucumber flavoured, and put in salads, soups and drinks. Used in the same way as borage. Also said to have value as a tonic.

History

The name is derived from the latin sanguis, blood and sorbere, to soak up; there is a story that a Hungarian king gave orders for the juice of the plant to be used on the wounds of 15,000 of his soldiers after a battle. The Greeks

grew it, also for medical purposes. First deliberately culti

vated in the 16th century in this country. Culpeper, in the

17th century, thought it had ‘a drying and an astringent

quality to staunch bleedings inward or outward’.

Cultivation, Easily grown, salad burnet prefers light soil. Sow seed when ripe in summer, or the following spring, thinning plants to 9 in. (23 cm) apart. Established plants can be increased by division in early spring. It makes a good container herb.

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