SALAD BURNET (Poterium sanguisorba)

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SALAD BURNET (Poterium sanguisorba)

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The leaves taste and smell like cucumber and are used in salads, salad dressings, iced drinks, egg dishes, cottage cheese, butter, cream cheeses, and vinegar, or as a garnish. Salad burnet is also useful as a border plant in a flower or rock garden. Herbalists long ago recommended planting this herb with thyme and mint to "perfume the air."

This is an attractive, bushy perennial that forms a 12-inch basal rosette of leaves and grows 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall. Its dark green leaves are sharply toothed. The green, thimble-shaped flowers with reddish purple stigmas appear along the stalks from midsummer on.

Salad burnet is easily grown from seed sown 1/2 inch deep, or propagated by dividing established plants in the spring. When the seed-lings emerge, thin them to 6 to 12 inches apart. This herb does best in a well-drained soil in full sun. It will tolerate a dry soil but benefits from supplemental watering. Harvest leaves when the plant is 4 inches tall; the youngest ones are best. Remove the flowers to maintain a compact plant habit and to keep new leaves forming. If flower heads are left on, the plants readily self-sow. Divide the root systems and replant the divisions each spring.

SOURCE: James C. Schmidt Department of Horticulture Michigan State University

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