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Salad Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba)

February 8, 2017 Back to Picks >

An evergreen perennial, easy-to-grow Salad Burnet (or simply Burnet) is a lovely mounding herb that is at its best in a Southern winter. A freezing rain will deposit jewel-like icy droplets on its blue-green leaves without doing the slightest damage. The dark green leaves provide a subtle cucumber flavor to winter salads — in hot weather, the leaves become somewhat toughened and develop the taste of watermelon. Burnet is a lovely plant as an accent among your garden’s flowers or as a graceful edging plant.

To use in a salad, cut a handful of small leaves from the center of the plant and chop them (or cut with scissors) to mix with your other greens. It’s great with asparagus, celery, beans, and mushrooms, terrific (and surprising!) in potato salad, and especially flavorful when used generously in soups.

Since Burnet grows from a crown in its center, it regrows rapidly after shirring. A flavorful vinegar can be made with the leaves, providing that hint of cucumber to your salads – just cover a generous quantity of leaves and stems with good quality white vinegar and let stand in a dark place for several weeks.

Plant Burnet anytime of the year in well-drained garden soil and fertilize with a slow-release organic fertilizer such as Arbor Gate Blend. This tough but lovely herb is reasonably drought-tolerant and impervious to disease and insects.