Salad Burnet (or sanguisorba minor) is a perennial plant with dark red wildflowers and lacy ferns, which can grow up to 12 inches tall. A member of the rose family, Salad Burnet is a native species in Europe, but also grows in western Asia and parts of northern Africa. Salad Burnet has edible leaves and was a very popular ingredient in Tudor times. It is also known for its medicinal properties – even being used in an attempt to treat the plague at one point in history.
Salad Burnet is named by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) as perfect for pollinators; its rich nectar attracts bumble bees, butterflies and other insects, which in turn helps support the eco-system and promote bio diversity.
Growing and harvesting Salad Burnet
Salad Burnet is easy to grow and the seeds can be sown year round. It is a hardy perennial plant which thrives in both partial shade and sun, and most soil types. And as well as using it to create your wildflower meadow, consider using seeds and cuttings to add colour to your garden or patio – this plant’s delicate, draping leaves and red wildflowers make it a great addition to containers or window boxes. Do not over water and keep trimming so it flourishes; cared for Salad Burnet will provide warmth and colour even during dark winter days. When harvesting, wait until the plant is around six to eight inches in height, so that the remaining plant continues to flourish.
As an alternative to growing Salad Burnet, you can keep things simple and invest in Meadowmat, a pre-grown wildflower meadow that’s as easy to lay as lawn turf. Turfonline and organisations such as local Wildlife Trusts and the RHS can provide further advice and tips about how to plant wild flowers, and their many benefits.
Traditional uses of Salad Burnet
A much admired wild flower, thanks to its pretty red flowers, Salad Burnet is grown for its aesthetic qualities. It is also used for culinary purposes (as its name suggests) and reputedly has several medicinal properties thanks to its astringent properties.
Used as a herb, Salad Burnet has a clean, crisp flavour, similar to cucumber. It’s used in salads and in dressings and it can also be added to drinks. It’s an easy-to-grow plant that appears early in the season and copes well with heat, so is a useful ingredient to have and to use throughout the summer.