This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Salad Burnet is distinctly a lime-loving plant, requiring a lime soil, but may be found commonly on such rock soils as those of the Rock bed of the Middle Lias, which is mainly arenaceous, though it undergoes changes which make it largely calcareous in part.
Photo. Flatters & Garnett - Salad Burnet (Poterium Sanguisorba, L.)
Two fungi grow on this plant, Phragmidium sanguisorbae and Aecidium poterii. It is galled by Eriophyes sanguisorbae.
The moths, the Reddish Buff Moth (Acosmetia caliginosa), Gnophos pullata, Paramesia aspersana, Nepticula poterii, Selenia tetralunaria, Essex Emerald (Geometra smaragdaria), feed on it.
Poterium, Linnaeus, is Greek, poterion, for a drinking-cup, as it was used in wine, Pliny tells us. Burnet is from Brunette, brown, from the colours of the flowers, especially in Great Burnet. Sanguisorba (sanguis, blood, sorbere, to absorb) is Latin for blood-stanching. This plant is called Burnet, Pimpernel, Pimpinell, Salad Burnet.
"Of pympurnalle to speke thenky zet, And Englysch y-called is Burnet."
It was formerly used in tankards. It was put in a preparation made for festering wounds, and was one of the herbs used in "Save", of Chaucer's time. It is nutritious and very astringent. Sheep are said to thrive on it. It has been sown with clover. The bruised leaves smell like cucumber and taste like the skin.
Essential Specific Characters:102. Poterium Sanguisorba, L. - Stem erect, angular, leaves pinnate, leaflets ovate serrate, flowers apetalous, in heads, crimson above, calyx 4-cleft, smooth, stamens below, with drooping filaments, fruit quadrangular, veined.