Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Sanguisorba officinalis

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sanguisorba officinalis L.


from sanguis, blood, and sorbeo, to staunch.


Traditional name

Syn.: Sanguisorba major, Pimpinella officinalis, Poterium officinalis
     German: Blutkopf, Sperbenkraut, Große, Bibernell, Pimpernelle

Used parts


Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Rosiflorae / Rosidae; Rosales; Rosaceae - Rose Family


Original proving

Description of the substance

Easily grown in average, medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun. Freely self-seeds. Prompt removal of spent flowers will prevent unwanted self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Great burnet is a clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial which typically grows to 3' tall. Features compound odd-pinnate, medium green, basal leaves (7-25 serrate leaflets each) and small terminal spikes (to 1.5" long) of dark purple flowers in summer. Stems are sometimes tinged with red. Has ornamental value, but is often grown as a culinary herb: leaves (especially younger ones) are excellent in salads and soups.

Closely related to the Alchemillas, belonging to the same subdivision, Sanguisorbidae, of the order Rosaceae and having similar medicinal properties to Alchemilla vulgaris, are the Burnets, Sanguisorba officinalis and Poterium sanguisorba.
It is a tall and not inelegant plant, with pinnate leaves on long stalks, bearing thirteen sharply serrate leaflets and branched stems, 2 feet high or more, sparsely clothed with leaves, and oblong heads of deep purple-brown flowers, which have four-toothed, coloured, membraneous calyces. The root is black and long. The plant has no odour.

It is cultivated to a considerable extent in Germany for fodder, and has been grown here with that view, but is not in esteem among English farmers. It will grow tolerably on very poor land, but is not a very valuable fodder plant.

An Italian proverb says: 'The salad is neither good nor good-looking when there is no pimpernel.' This pimpernel is our Common Burnet and must not be confused with the plant known by that name which has poisonous properties. The roots are perennial and should be divided in early spring. It likes a dry and chalky soil.