Small Burnett

Botanical Name Sanguisorba minor Scop.
Life Cycle Perennial
Environment Full Sun
Preferred Sites Upland/Grassland
Bloom Period May-July
Flower Color Purple


Small burnet is an introduced, hardy, herbaceous, relatively long-lived, evergreen, non-leguminous, perennial forb. It is usually a branched caudex with a prominent taproot and sometimes-weakly rhizomatous.

Uses: Grazing/rangeland: Small burnet is noted to have good to excellent forage value for livestock and wildlife during all seasons. It stays green throughout the growing season and into winter until heavy snow cover occurs, providing forage and seed to livestock and wildlife.

Erosion control/reclamation: Small burnet is noted for value in mixes for erosion control and beautification.

Wildlife: Small burnet is considered very desirable forage for elk, deer, antelope and birds either as herbage or seed. Birds use the seed in fall, winter and spring. It also provides cover for selected small bird species. It provides diversity to the plant community.

Adaptation: Small burnet does best on well-drained soils and infertile to disturbed soils. It can be planted and will establish in 12 inches or more rainfall areas, but generally does not persist in areas with less than 14 inches annual precipitation. It has excellent cold winter and drought tolerance. It tolerates weakly saline to weakly acidic sites. Small burnet is not tolerant of poor drainage, flooding or high water tables. It is usually used in open areas, but will tolerate semi-shaded conditions. It is considered fire resistant due to leaves and stems staying green with relatively high moisture content during the fire season.

Establishment: Small burnet should be seeded with a drill at a depth of ¼ to ¾ inch into a firm seedbed or broadcast using seed dribblers or aerial applications. Small burnet is not recommended for single species seedings. The full seeding rate for this forb is 20 pounds Pure Lie Seed (PLS) per acre or 20 PLS per square foot. When used as a component of a mix, adjust to percent of mix desired. In most cases a rate of 2 to 5 pounds per acre would be adequate in mixtures with other species. For mine lands and other harsh critical areas, double the seeding rate component of small burnet. The best seeding results are obtained from seeding in late fall to very early spring (because of grass component of mix) on heavy to medium textured soils and in late fall on medium to light textured soils. Late summer (August – mid September) seeding is not recommended unless site is irrigated. Mulching, irrigation and weed control all benefit stand establishment. Seeding vigor is excellent, but the plant establishes slowly. Management: Growth of small burnet begins in early spring and flowers appear in late May through June. The plant establishes slowly and should not be grazed until at least the second growing season.

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