Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Salad burnet: an easy-to-grow perennial crop

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is a perennial crop in the rose family (Rosaceae) that is native to all of Europe, northern Africa and also in southern Africa. It's easy to grow from seed and it reseeds. It's best to plant this with other perennial crops and herbs so it does not get in the way during crop rotations.

Salad burnet leaves in the morning with guttation* drops on
the ends of all the leaf serrations.

In the winter:

Several plants are grouped together in a vegetable bed. A perennial plant, salad burnet withstands frost beautifully.

In the summer:

Salad burnet with a flowering stalk. Salad burnet flower head. It's wind pollinated.

Using salad burnet

Salad burnet adds color, texture, and a
mild flavor to salads.

The serrated leaves are beautiful. They can be used like parsley, mints, or other leafy herbs in salads, as garnish, to flavor drinks or vinegars. The leaves have a slight cucumbery taste and odor during most of the year, but in the summer, they are more reminiscent of watermelon. Because it's green on a year-round basis in Florida, this crop is useful when others may be dormant.

I harvest this crop by cutting off selected stems at the base. Once inside, I strip the leaves from the stems by sliding my thumb and finger down the stem. I compost the stems. While the flowers are interesting, they are not the point of this crop and to keep the population in check, it's best to pick the flowers and throw them away.

I haven't tried flavoring drinks or vinegars, yet, but I do appreciate that I always have some around to garnish a variety of salads and soups.

I hope you are adding a few new edibles to your gardens each season. Salad burnet is a good one to try.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

* Guttation: When the temperature lowers at night, far less water evaporates into the air through transpiration, but in many types of plants, the root pressure is not immediately reduced, so there is a flow of water from the leaves at night to relieve the pressure. This is called guttation.  For more details read my article: Water science and gardening.

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