Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Sanguisorba officinalis
garden burnet, great burnet

Distribution: Occurring west of the Cascades crest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington; Alaska to California; introduced in eastern North America; circumboreal.

Habitat: Peatlands, wet meadows, marshes, shorelines, and wet forests from the lowlands to subalpine.

Flowers: July-August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Glabrous perennial with thick, short rhizomes, the stems erect, simple to sparingly branched, nearly leafless, up to 6 dm. tall.


Leaves mostly basal, pinnate, the blades 8-15 cm. long, the leaflets 9-13, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, 1.5-3 cm. long, serrate, the base rounded to cordate; stipules form membranous margins to the petioles; cauline leaves 1-2, much reduced, their stipules leaf-like.


Inflorescence a broadly cylindric spike 1-2.5 cm. long and 1 cm. broad; flowers maroon or violet to purple, 5 mm. long, each subtended by a papery bract and 2 lateral bractlets; calyx tube brownish-purple, the 4 lobes 2-2.5 mm. long, with 4 lanceolate bracteoles of equal length; petals none; stamens 4, the filaments thick, terete, equal to the sepals; pistils 1-2, the style terminal.


Achene enclosed in the hardened calyx, ellipsoid, narrowly winged on the 4 angles.

Accepted Name:
Sanguisorba officinalis L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 116. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Poterium officinale (L.) A. Gray
Sanguisorba microcephala C. Presl
Sanguisorba officinalis L. ssp. microcephala (C. Presl) Calder & Roy L. Taylor
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Sanguisorba officinalis in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Sanguisorba officinalis checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Sanguisorba officinalis atlas page.

CalPhotos: Sanguisorba officinalis photos.

USDA Plants: Sanguisorba officinalis information.

10 photographs:
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