Easily confused with : Fodder Burnet which is a more substantial sub-species of Salad Burnet.
No relation to :
Burnet Rose, Burnet-Saxifrage or Greater Burnet-Saxifrage [plants with similar names]
The name gives a clue as to its use: the fresh leaves have a nutty flavour and were used to flavour salads, salad dressings, cheese, soup and summer drinks. Previously used as a spice to flavour beer and brandy. It smells of cucumber.
Distinguishing Feature : The flowers of both Fodder Burnet and Salad Burnet are tiny, green and mostly closed-up and clustered together like small globules on the end of the stalk. When ripe, a cluster of conspicuous red styles emerges from the closed flower cup, and a similar cluster of longer yellow anthers droops downwards like a yellow fuzzy beard.
Grows in dry grassland on limy soils.
A RARE CARBOXYLIC ACID
A unique phenolic carboxylic acid, has been isolated from Salad Burnet, namely 4,8-dimethoxy -7-hydroxy -2-oxo-2H-1-benzopyran -5,6-dicarboxylic acid, shown above. It is a carboxy derivative of the Coumarin Daphnetin (shown below), and is rather rare. Note the similarity to Ellagic Acid, shown below.
Ellagic Acid is a common phenolic compound found in many fruits and nuts such as
Blackberry, Raspberry and Cranberry. It has anti-oxidant properties as well as anti-proliferation activity, meaning it protects from certain cancers by inhibiting the binding of certain carcinogens (such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines) to DNA. Ellagic Acid can be viewed as consisting of two fused molecules of the coumarin Daphnetin. [Daphnetin is shown for comparison only, it has no known presence in Salad Burnet].
Plants also use Ellagic Acid to form Ellagitannins, which are forms of
Also found in Salad Burnet are the flavones Quercetin and Kaempferol, both of which are poisonous to some extent.