Burnets

Fodder Burnet Great Burnet Fodder Burnet Fodder Burnet

What are they?

These are rather unusual-looking members of the rose family (Rosaceae) bearing their flowers in tight heads like little drumsticks, carried well above the pinnate leaves. Burnets are summer-flowering, herbaceous perennials and their presence is often considered indicative of a good-quality plant community.

Where are they found?

Burnets are typically plants of species-rich, grassland plant communities but may occasionally be found on better quality roadside verges.

Identification

Although superficially similar, the two species are readily told apart by the size and shape of the flowerhead and by the shape of the leaflets.



Salad Burnet      Poterium sanguisorba subsp. sanguisorba

Native. Found throughout the region but only common on the chalky soils in the west and southwest of our area, where it grows in dry, grassy places. Flowers May to August. Leaves with rounded, coarsely toothed leaflets, forming a low rosette in short grass.

Salad Burnet Salad Burnet Salad Burnet Salad Burnet
Male flowers
Female flowers
Leaves
Leaf


Fodder Burnet      Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum

Introduced. Formerly grown for animal fodder and occasionally found in rough, grassy places. More recently being grown as a constituent of wildflower mixes and sometimes occurring on farmland conservation headlands. Flowers May to August. Leaves more ovate and more coarsely toothed than those of Salad Burnet and the whole plant is larger.

Fodder Burnet Fodder Burnet Fodder Burnet Fodder Burnet
Habit
Male flowers
Female flowers
Leaf


Great Burnet      Sanguisorba officinalis

Native. A rare plant in East Anglia, being more northern and western in distribution in the UK. A few plants survive at protected wetlands on the Norfolk-Suffolk border and in the Fens. Flowers June to August. Much larger in all parts than the other burnets and often growing to a metre in height. Larger, less deeply toothed leaves and deep purplish-red flower spikes.

Great Burnet Great Burnet Great Burnet
Flower spike
Flower spike
Leaves