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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

30 January, 2017

Salad Burnet: one for the pot

When I first started taking an interest in plants it took me a while to make the connection between habitat and vegetation. Looking back I find that quite strange as I readily accepted that I would find robins in gardens, nuthatches in woodland and redshank on mudflats. If birds have favoured habitat then why not plants? Now when I walk on to chalk grassland I expect to see certain species and salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is certainly one of them.
The burnets are members of the rose family but do not look much like the roses in your garden. The flowers are rounded with little sign of petals, they are quite nondescript really. It is when you look at the leaves you see some similarity with roses in general. The plant itself is quite bushy but rarely grows to two feet tall. It may not look much but at least it is distinctive and easily recognised once you know it.
Why does the common name include salad? The answer is quite obvious, it was once used in salads it having a mild cucumber taste. It was also widely used as a culinary herb in place of mint. Medicinally it was made into a tea and used to cure diarrhea! One for the pot?
Salad Burnet: one for the pot