Salad Burnet is a relatively unknown, evergreen, perennial herb which tastes a little like cucumber. Being evergreen, it can be added to salads in the middle of winter, when cucumbers ae not in season. The taste will be fresh, without the need to purchase something that has been grown in a hothouse or been in cold storage for months; and probably travelled several hundred kilometres into the bargain!
This attractive clumping herb grows to a height of 40-60cm. Ours is growing in an area that receives more shade than sun; although the area is brightly lit, the plant has barely reached 40cm. The leaves are an attractive, lighter shade of green, contrasting with the darker green of the leeks and Cape Gooseberry growing nearby. Supposedly it flowers in Summer but ours has been in bud (in mid-Spring) for about two weeks. The green, ball-shaped flowers have crimson tops and are found on the top of thin stems.
To add leaves to a salad, just run your fingers down the stem, as you would if removing leaves from thyme or rosemary. The leaves can also be added to sandwiches as a salad green with the taste of cucumber; or you could use them to make a dip similar to tzatziki. Try using it in recipes that call for coriander if, like me, you don’t like the taste of that particular herb! It could also be used as a garnish in drinks where you would normally use cucumber or mint.
The Latin name , Sanguisorba minor, literally translates as “blood soaked minor”. In folk medicine, it was used to stop bleeding.
GROWING SALAD BURNET
Salad Burnet has unusual shaped seeds that could not be mistaken for anything else, at least not in our collection of seeds. We have found salad burnet a little bit difficult to germinate, which, in the right conditions, it should do in 7-14 days.
Don’t wait too long before transplanting the seedlings into moist soil in a semi-shaded position; it suffers easily from ‘transplant shock’. Its soft leaves don’t do very well in the harsh, western-Sydney summer sun so make sure it has morning sun only. Although it is plant from ‘dry’ meadows of Europe, it will need to be kept moist while it gets settled. Once established, it seems to thrive on neglect as long as it gets the occasional watering. It is attractive enough to be grown as a border plant in the ornamental garden or in the more traditional herb garden.
FUN FINAL FACT
For fans of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (historical fiction classic by Baroness Orczy), Salad Burnet is a cousin of Sanguisorbia officianalis which, among its many common names, is known as ‘pimpernel’. They are both members of the family Rosacea and are, therefore, distant cousins of the rose.
DISCLAIMER: The information given here is for entertainment and/or gardening purposes only. Please do further research if you are unfamiliar with this plant. If you have never eaten it before, try a leaf and wait a few hours before eating more.