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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Burnet, Burnet Bloodwort, Common Burnet, Garden Burnet
(Sanguisorba officinalis syn Poterium officinalis)

CONTAINS: ROOT contains sanguüns (tannins), sanguisorbins (glycosides), catechin, gallocatechin, 0.9% sugar, sanguisorbine, sanguisorbigenin, sanguisorbin A, B, and E (hydrolyzing to D-glucose, L-arabinose, ursolic acid).
FRESH LEAVES contain 2.5 to 4% sanguisorbin, alkaloids, tannn, sugar, vitamin C.
FLOWERS contain cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3, 5-diglucosides, quercertin, kaempferol, gallocatechin, catechin.

A perennial to 3 feet, native to parts of Europe and northern Asia, but naturalized in North America. Grows wild from Japan to Iran and across Europe to Iceland. The leaves are sharply serrate, dull green, oblong; flowers are purple-brown oblong buds appearing July to August; root is long and black.

The name is derived from the Latin 'sanguis' meaning blood, and 'sorbeo' meaning to staunch or absorb.

Medicinal use of the root was first recorded during the Han dynasty (206 BC - 23 AD), although in the West, the leaves are preferred.

PROPAGATION: By seed autumn or spring. Readily self-sows.
NEEDS: Grown as an ornamental in moist, but well-drained soil in full sun.
PART USED: Leaves, root [di yu]
HARVEST: Leafy parts before the flowers open; roots in autumn. Parts are dried for use. In Chinese medicine, the roots are collected, sliced, and roasted until black. The fresh red root however is used to treat problems related to blood.
FLOWERS: Purplish-pink to red, some say with a brownish cast.
Salad Burnet: See below.


Astringent, bitter, sour, cooling, alterative, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, refrigerant (leaf), styptic, vulnerary. Specifically, the ROOT has been considered diuretic, anodyne, febrifuge, hemostatic, vulnerary. Affects liver, colon, stomach.
Has been used internally for diarrhea, dysentary, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, hemorrhage, abnormal uterine bleeding.
Has been used externally for burns, scalds, sores, skin diseases, leukorrhea.Also: a decoction of the whole plant has been used for hemorrhage and the juice of the leaves to staunch bleeding.
Has also been used for enterorrhagia, furunculosis (crops of boils), inflammation, menorrhagia, nausea, pruritis, snakebite.
Has been used in a dried and powdered form to stop purging.
Clinical studies in China have shown it to be effective against bacillary dysentary, eczema, athlete's foot, cervical erosion, uterine bleeding and gastrointestinal bleeding. Has also been researched for antifertility action. In that context, it is used to treat excessive bleeding after childbirth, excessive bleeding during menses, and coughing of blood.
Has been used in dentistry for periodontal disease
Historically, a beer was made from the roots and leaves as a tonic to clear the blood of impurities.
A long held belief from earliest times was that it helped to drive away despair and depression and gave one courage.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
DRIED HERB = 2 to 6 gram taken 3 times daily
INFUSION = 1 oz of root or 1 handful leaves to 1 pint of boiling water; steep leaves 10 minutes, roots 15 to 20 minutes; taken 1/2 cup at a time 2 to 3 times daily.

Has been cultivated in Germany as fodder

aka Lesser Burnet
(Poterium sanguisorba syn Sanguisorba minor)

CONTAINS: Vitamin C, essential oil, tannins, flavones.
LEAVES (based on zero moisture): 11.1% protein, 2.0% fat, 80.4% total carbohydrate, 18.0% fiber, 6.5% ash.

A slighty hairy perennial to Zone 4 which is native to Europe and Asia (British Isles through central and southern Europe to Morocco and Iran), being evergreen except in severe winters. Grows to 12 inches tall, the stems containing 6 to 12 leaflets. Well known as a cooling herb with a cucumber taste valued for its culinary uses. The name is derived from the Greek 'poterion' meaning drinking cup, signifying its use to flavor beverages, while 'sanguisorba' literally means to absorb blood. The Dutch call it 'God's Little Bird'. The flowers will fold their petals on a cloudy day before a storm is due.

PROPAGATION: By seed; germinates in 8 to 10 days at soil temp 70ºF and is viable for 3 years.
NEEDS: Sandy loam, well-draining, pH 7 to 8.5 in full sun. Makes a good low border or fill-in plant. Was used in Tudor herb and knot gardens. For culinary use, remove blooms as they appear and keep plant trimmed to 6 inches (2nd year onward) for a steady supply of new stems.
PART USED: Fresh leaves
HARVEST: Leaves in the 2nd year onward allowing plant to develop during the first year.


A digestive aid, tonic, mild diuretic, and styptic.
Chewing on a fresh leaf has been used for indigestion, while the leaf tea has been used for diarrhea.
Infusion has been used as a compress for cooling sunburn.
Root (dried) in decoction form has been used to stop bleeding.
Tannins provide styptic properties. Reputed wound healer. The dried, powdered leaves have been used as an astringent to stop bleeding. In China the root is used on burns and wounds to reduce inflammation and infection. The root has also been used for ulcerative colitis.
Reputed drying action has been used to treat hemorrhages, diarrhea, vaginal discharges.
Has been used to treat ailments of the heart.
Has been used externally for sunburn and troubled skin.
In the 17th century, gout and rheumatism were treated with burnet-flavored wine or ale for pain relief.

Harvest young tender leaves (older ones bitter); use in salads, soups, herb butters, dips and as garnish; use whole to flavor and garnish drinks.
Goes well with rosemary and tarragon.
Dried leaves used for tea. Leaves can be fresh frozen as well.
Used to make flavored vinegar (let stand several months when using leaves and stems as the flavor of burnet is delicate).
Goes well with cream cheese and cottage cheese.
BURNET DIP = 1 cup cottage cheese, 3 tbsp milk, 2 5bsp chopped fresh burnet leaves, 3 whole burnet leaves. Place cheese, milk and chopped leaves in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth. Garnish with whole leaves.
BURNET VINEGAR = In a bottle, combine 1 quart vinegar and 1/2 oz dried and pounded Burnet seed; cap tightly and shak well once a day for 10 days; strain and cap; is ready for use.

Used alone or combined with other herbs in a muslin bag for the bath.

A favorite grazing food of sheep.

©2000 & 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH