Sanguisorba officinalis L.
great burnet (official burnet)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Virginia Skilton     (Photo ID #84231)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Sanguisorba officinalis
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Species Information

Perennial herb from a thick short rhizome, smooth, usually glaucous; stems erect, 20 to 150 cm tall, often branched above.
Basal leaves several, 10-40 cm long, pinnately compound, with stipules fused to base of long leaf-stalks and forming membranous margins; leaflets 7 to 15, egg-shaped to lance-oblong, 1.5-4 cm long, coarsely saw-toothed, green above, paler beneath; stem leaves 1 or 2, similar but smaller and with fewer leaflets, with free leaflet-like stipules.
Inflorescence a dense, cylindric to egg-shaped, long-stalked spike, 1-3 cm long, of numerous small flowers; corollas absent; calyces reddish-purple to maroon, 4-lobed, the lobes egg-shaped, 2-3 mm long; ovaries superior; stamens 4, the filaments linear, not flattened, about the same length as the calyx-lobes.
Achenes, enclosed in the 4-angled, narrowly winged, hairy hypanthium.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


Ecological Framework for Sanguisorba officinalis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres)
279 5 1790
Slope Gradient (%)
7 0 50

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

8 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
6 1 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

BWBS(1), CWH(177), ESSF(2), MH(15), SWB(1)

Habitat and Range

Bogs and fens in the lowland and montane zones; frequent along the coast; N to AK and YT and S to S CA.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Poterium officinale (L.) A. Gray
Sanguisorba microcephala C. Presl
Sanguisorba officinalis subsp. microcephala (C. Presl) Calder & Roy L. Taylor
Sanguisorba officinalis var. polygama (W. Nyl.) Mela & A. Caj.