Sanguisorba minor - Salad Burnet

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Rosales - Family: Rosaceae

Flower head oif Sanguisorba minor, Salad Burnet

Salad Burnet, a perennial plant of alkaline and neutral grassland, usually grows to a height of 20 to 30cm.


The plants have pairs of toothed leaflets that form a basal rosette. Red-flushed knobbly clusters of flowers can usually be seen from late spring through to autumn, and these eventually develop into burred fruits. The flower heads are typically 1 to 2cm across, with crimson upper flowers and yellower lower flowers from which bunches oif long pollen-bearing stamens hang down. Salad Burnet relies mainly on the wind to distribute its pollen.

When crushed, the leaves of Salad Burnet give off a cucumber-like odour.


The common name reflects the fact that the leaves of this plant were (and by some people still are) commonly used in salads.

Sanguisorba officinalis, Great Burnet, Flowers


In Britain and Ireland, Salad Burnet is common and widespread except for the northern part of Scotland, where it is uncommon and rather localised. This wildflower is also native to much of mainland Europe, western Asia, Siberia, and northern Africa; and it is an introduced alien species in North America.


This member of the Rose family usually grows in dryish alkaline or neutral meadows.

Blooming Times

Salad Burnet flowers from June through to September.

Sanguisorba minor, Salad Burnet, group of flowers


Sanguisorba, the genus name, refers to the use of various members of this group of plants for 'absorbing blood' - in other words to stem bleeding. The specific epithet minor means 'rather small' and indicates that this species has smaller flowers than others in the same genus.

Similar Species

Great Burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, is a much taller and more spectacular wildflower; it favours damp meadows and stream banks and is pollinated mainly by insects.

The specimens shown on this page were photographed in Wales during June.

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