Great Burnet

Whilst picking Brambles yesterday, I came across something I have not seen for many years….Wild Burnet.

I used to pick these en masse for my father to make wine and here it was growing in the grassland near the hedgerow.

The Wild Burnet or Sanguisorba Officinalis grows to around 1m tall in grassland and on hedgerow banks.

It is generally not easy to see the foliage but the tall wiry stems raise themselves above the vegetation and waft their dark burgundy, (almost brown) rounded flower heads in the breeze.

The leaves can be used in salads and taste mildly of cucumber.

Ancient Chinese Medicine saw the root of this plant employed to treat bleeding, such as nosebleeds and dysentry.  And when applied to the skin is used in the treatment of insect bites and burns.

Although the leaves were used in salads and sandwiches, it was only the bitter, peppery flower heads that we used to collect for the wine.  This had the advantage of making the plant grow bushier and therefore more flowers were available the following year.

I will have to ask my dad to hunt out the wine recipe.  The only thing I can remember about making it is fighting hundreds of wasps due to the copious amounts of honey in the mix.  As my husband said, it is probably more of a mead than a wine but the net result was incredibly good.

Perhaps you have different uses for it, if so, please let us know.