Herbs & Plants

Sanguisorba Officinalis (Great Burnet)


Botanical Name:Sanguisorba Officinalis (LINN.)
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Tribe: Sanguisorbeae
Subtribe: Sanguisorbinae
Genus: Sanguisorba
Species: S. officinalis
Common names:  Great Burnet
Synonyms: Garden Burnet. Common Burnet.   Poterium officinale. Sanguisorba microcephala. Sanguisorba officinalis ssp. microcephala. Sanguisor
Parts Used: Herb, root.

Habitat: Sanguisorba officinalis is native to Europe, including Britain, from celand south and east to Spain, temperate Asia to Iran, China, Japan It grows in meadows and wet grassy places by streams. Moist shady sites in grassland, on siliceous soils.

Description:It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1 m tall, which occurs in grasslands, growing well on grassy banks. It flowers June/July.

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Height: 2.5 to 3 feet
Spread: 2 to 3 feet
Bloom Time: May – June   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Dark red to black purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Great burnet is a clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial which typically grows to 3′ tall. Features compound odd-pinnate, medium green, basal leaves (7-25 serrate leaflets each) and small terminal spikes (to 1.5″ long) of dark purple flowers in summer. Stems are sometimes tinged with red. Has ornamental value, but is often grown as a culinary herb: leaves (especially younger ones) are excellent in salads and soups.

Cultivation: Burnet may be cultivated. It prefers a light soil. Sow seeds in March and thin out to 9 inches apart. Propagation may also be effected by division of roots, in the autumn, that they may be well-established before the dry summer weather sets in. The flowers should be picked off when they appear, the stem and leaves only of the herb being used.
Edible Uses:Young leaves and flower buds – raw or cooked. They should be harvested in the spring before the plant comes into flower. A cucumber flavour, they can be added to salads or used as a potherb. The fresh or dried leaves are used as a tea substitute

The leaves are used in salads because they are mildly reminiscent of cucumber. Selective pruning of apical meristems, such as at flower heads, is used to encourage an increase in leaf production.

Medicinal Uses:

Astringent and tonic. Great Burnet was formerly in high repute as a vulnerary, hence its generic name, from sanguis, blood, and sorbeo, to staunch. Both herb and root are administered internally in all abnormal discharges: in diarrhoea, dysentery, leucorrhoea, it is of the utmost service; dried and powdered, it has been used to stop purgings.

The whole plant has astringent qualities, but the root possesses the most astringency. A decoction of the whole herb has, however, been found useful in haemorrhage and is a tonic cordial and sudorific; the herb is also largely used in Herb Beer.
It has been in use by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, probably through the employment of the doctrine of signatures as a treatment for bleeding.

Specifically, the root is used to stop bloody dysentery, nosebleeds, and is applied topically to treat burns and insect bites.It is used to stop bleeding.

American soldiers in the Revolutionary War drank tea made from the leaves before going into battle to prevent excessive bleeding if they were wounded. It is antibacterial. It is currently in use in Chinese herbal medicine to control bleeding and to stop vomiting.

Known Hazards:  Best avoided during pregnancy in view of the lack of information about toxicity. Suggested that the herb may interact with the group of allopathic medications known as fluoroquinolones

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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