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Sanguisorba officinalis - L.

Common Name Great Burnet
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
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 [301].
Habitats Meadows and wet grassy places by streams[187]. Moist shady sites in grassland, on siliceous soils[7, 13, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from celand south and east to Spain, temperate Asia to Iran, China, Japan
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Sanguisorba officinalis Great Burnet

Sanguisorba officinalis Great Burnet


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Sanguisorba officinalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil.


Poterium officinale. Sanguisorba microcephala. Sanguisorba officinalis ssp. microcephala. Sanguisor


 Meadow; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Young leaves and flower buds - raw or cooked[13, 61, 105]. They should be harvested in the spring before the plant comes into flower[9]. A cucumber flavour[7, 46], they can be added to salads or used as a potherb[183]. The fresh or dried leaves are used as a tea substitute[183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne;  Antidiarrhoeal;  Astringent;  Contraceptive;  Diuretic;  Febrifuge;  Haemostatic;  Tonic;  

Great burnet is employed mainly for its astringent action, being used to slow or arrest blood flow. It is taken both internally and externally internally and is a safe and effective treatment. Modern research in China has shown that the whole herb heals burns more effectively than the extracted tannins (the astringent component of the plant)[254]. Patients suffering from eczema showed marked improvement when treated with an ointment made from the root and petroleum jelly[254]. The leaves are astringent, refrigerant, styptic and tonic[7, 218, 222]. They are used in the treatment of fevers and bleeding[218, 222]. The plant is prevented from flowering and then the leaves are harvested in July and dried for later use[4, 238]. The root is anodyne, astringent, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, tonic and vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 21, 147, 165, 176, 178, 218]. It is used in the treatment of peptic ulcers, haematuria, menorrhagia, bloody stool, dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids and burns[176]. The root is harvested in the autumn as the leaves die down and dried for later use[4, 238]. All parts of the plant are astringent, but the root is most active[4]. Great burnet is an excellent internal treatment for all sorts of abnormal discharges including diarrhoea, dysentery and leucorrhoea[4]. It is used externally in the treatment of burns, scalds, sores and skin diseases[238]. This species was ranked 19th in a Chinese survey of 250 potential anti-fertility plants[218].

Other Uses


The roots contain tannin[7].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1]. Prefers a good moist soil that does not dry out in the summer, in sun or partial shade[187, 200]. Plants grow tolerably well in very poor soils and likes a dry chalky soil[4]. This species is hardy to about -25°c[187].


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Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out as soon as they have reached a reasonable size. The seed can also be sown in situ in early spring[4]. Division in the spring or in autumn[4].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Sanguisorba annuaPrairie Burnet11
Sanguisorba canadensisAmerican Great Burnet, Canadian burnet10
Sanguisorba menziesiiMenzies' burnet11
Sanguisorba minorSalad Burnet, Small burnet42
Sanguisorba obtusaJapanese burnet10
Sanguisorba stipulata 11
Sanguisorba tenuifolia 10


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Lukasz Luczaj   Sun Mar 10 20:47:00 2002

Dried and ground roots of Sanguisorba officinalis, Butomus umbellatus, Lilium martagon, Lilium spectabile and Typha latifolia were made into flour by Yakuts of Siberia. It was added to a dish called 'butugas'. Source: Maurizo A. 1926 "Pozywienie roslinne i rolnictwo w rozwoju dziejowym", Warsaw. Maurizo quoted the following original source: Sieroszewski W. 1900. "12 lat w kraju Jakutow", Warsaw.

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