Herb: Burnet Saxifrage

Latin name: Pimpinella saxifraga

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Burnet Saxifrage:

Burnet saxifrage has long been held in high regard as a medicinal herb, being used especially in the treatment of wounds and internally to ease digestion, soothe respiratory complaints and treat kidney and urinary diseases. The leaves and the root are antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, resolvent and stomachic. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and dried for later use. The root is harvested in the autumn and can also be dried for later use. The root is anti-inflammatory, mildly astringent and expectorant. The fresh root is very hot and acrid, but this pungency is greatly reduced when the root is dried. When chewed, the fresh root is effective in treating toothaches and paralysis of the tongue. The root is also used for soothing coughs or the effects of laryngitis and bronchitis. The roots can be harvested in the spring or autumn and are dried for later use. A lotion made from the root is used externally to help regenerate the skin of older people. A distilled water made from the plant is used as an eye lotion.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Fields and hedgerows in dry ground, especially on calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Burnet Saxifrage:

Young leaves and shoots - raw. They can be added in small quantities to mixed salads or used to impart a cool aromatic flavour to cooling drinks. The leaves are said to have a parsley-like tang, whilst another report says that the flavour is like cucumber. Seeds - used as a condiment. They are coated with sugar and eaten as a confection. An essential oil from the root is used as a flavouring in sweets etc. It gives a bitter flavour to liqueurs.

Propagation of the herb:

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. If you can obtain fresh seed then it is best sown immediately. Germination rates are usually very good so it is probably best done in situ if you have sufficient seed, but if you only have a small quantity then it is safer to sow it in pots in a cold frame. Sow stored seed as soon as you can obtain it, this is probably best done in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the pot-grown seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of Burnet Saxifrage:

Fields and hedgerows in dry ground, especially on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Pimpinella saxifraga:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.