Salad burnet — also known as garden burnet, small burnet, or just burnet — is a perennial herb with leaves that taste like cucumber. It pairs well with chives and dill, and is a great addition to salads, flavored vinegars and tea sandwich spreads. Use the fern-like leaves when they are young and tender for the best flavor — they must be used fresh, because when dried they lose their flavor. Unless you live near a large farmer's market, you'll have to grow your own supply. Fortunately, it's an easy plant to grow.

Salad burnet can be started by direct seed or seedlings, and is suitable for container gardening if you use a pot at least 12 inches deep. Like dill, this plant develops a deep taproot; you must plant seedlings young and avoid additional transplantings. But otherwise this plant is pretty low-maintenance if your soil isn't too high in acid or clay, and you select a spot in full sun to partial shade. Salad burnet usually survives drought and neglect, but not over-watering. When it finds a spot it likes it is a prolific self-seeder, so pinch off any flower stalks if you like tidy beds; this will also help the plant produce more edible foliage as summer progresses.

The bottom line: salad burnet tastes great and is difficult to kill. Go buy some seeds!

Kingdom: Plantae • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta • Superdivision: Spermatophyta • Division: Magnoliophyta • Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae • Order: Rosales • Family: Rosaceae • Genus: Sanguisorba L. • Species: Sanguisorba minor

Additional reading:
  1. US Dept. of Agriculture Plants Database
  2. Dave's Garden - Salad Burnet
  3. Growing and Using Salad Burnet
  4. Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stucky, The Bountiful Container (New York: Workman Publishing, 2002), 260-261. (A great book for any gardener!)


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