Monday, December 21, 2009

Sanguisorba officinalis 'Tanna'

Sanguisorba officinalis 'Tanna', Burnet, or Pimpinela

Internationally renowned nurseryman and planting designer Piet Oudholf selected this form of the 'Great Burnet' and named it for his wife Tanna. In its wild form it is found in mountain meadows of central and northern Spain and in the Pyrenees of France. In Spain and Portugal it is known by the common name of Pimpinela. In Summer, from basal rosettes of pinnate leaves rise tall leafless stems carrying many oval red flowers. The flowers are subtle and are best suited to a meadow or wild garden style planting teamed with grasses, a style much celebrated by Piet Oudholf. I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed by it, as in our harsh Summer daylight it disappears into the landscape appearing wispy and weedy without a lot of impact.
However, both it and its smaller cousin Sanguisorba minor, the hardy herb Salad Burnet, have a long history as medicinal plants and were used on the battlefields of long ago to staunch bleeding wounds. Salad Burnet has delicate lacy foliage and grows no more than 30cm. The leaves have a slight cucumber flavour and can be added to salads or used in drinks such as a Pimms or a cooling whiskey-based cocktail.
Both of these plants are very cold hardy and Salad Burnet will even poke its head through a light fall of snow, a timely reminder for those in the Northern Hemisphere who are looking for a few home grown salad greens at this time of year.
2017 update I no longer grow this plant.


  1. A two-in-onr. Pretty flowers to admire and tasty salad to enjoy:-) I liked your very interesting post about the Christmas beetles too.

  2. Ian at first glance, I thought they were some type of strawberry. They really add a nice touch to the garden.

    I love a Pimm's Cup now and then; made with 7-Up and cucumber sticks. Wonderful if this would grow here in Georgia?