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Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor)

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is a delicious perennial herb produces an elegant fountain-like spray of pale green branches. The leaves grow in pairs and have a toothed edge. This feathery appearance makes a nice contrast with other plant textures in the garden.

Salad burnet makes a good border plant with your more showy ornamental plans. It can also be an asset in a hanging basket. In mid- to late-summer salad burnet sends up stalks with a globular cluster of burgundy and green flowers, somewhat resembling a raspberry in shape and size. Plant it where it will get regular moisture. In hotter areas, see that it has afternoon shade. If over-exposed the leaves tend to get tough and lose flavor.

Salad burnet likes moist conditions with full sun, not a combination found in many parts of the Southwest. However I have been successfully growing it for several years in my north-facing shade garden where it gets semi-regular watering. Salad burnet is a hardy perennial to Zone 5. It handles light frost without any problem, looking as fresh and green as it did the day before.

This old-fashioned herb can be propagated by seed in spring as you would other herbs. Plant seedlings about eight inches apart in soil enriched with organic material. Mature plants can be divided in the fall. Trim the stems to about four inches before digging up the parent plant. Then gently separate the crown before re-planting.

The fresh leaves of salad burnet have a light cucumber flavor making them an excellent addition to tossed green salads, potato salads, or soups. Combine a tablespoon each of salad burnet leaves and chopped chives with cream cheese for a snack spread. If you’re eating cottage cheese as part of a diet, mix in some of this herb’s chopped leaves. When making a sauce for fish, stir in some minced leaves. In fact, wherever you want to add a cucumber flavor try salad burnet.