GREATER BURNET-SAXIFRAGE

Pimpinella major

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]

month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
flower
flower8pink
morph
morph8actino
morph
morph8hemizygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZumbel
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8hollow
stem
stem8ribbed

16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
It is common locally on the margins of woods and on grassy roadsides and country tracks. It grows to 1.2m high.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Mixed pink and white plants.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
[The large purple-veined leaves belong to another plant].


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
At up to 1m (1.2m) high it is only slightly taller than the 70cm of Burnet-Saxifrage. Leaves just 1-pinnate on a longish stalk with a terminal leaflet. Lower leaves larger and with more pairs of leaflets (3 to 4); fewer than those of Burnet-Saxifrage. Each branch usually has but one umbel.

The teminal umbel (the one on the end of the main stem) has hermaphroditic flowers (with flowers which possess both male and female organs) and has already turned to fruit, with two styles prtruding from each fruit.

All other umbels (those on branches from the main stem) have flowers which are nearly all male (thus incapable of producing fruit) and have 5 stamens protruding from each flower..



17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Umbels 50-60mm across and without bracts and umbellets usually also without bracteoles beneath them. Upper leaves with much narrower leaflets.


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The compound umbels have between 10 and 20 umbellets.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
At the end of long stems are perhaps 10 or more Umbels, each with between 10 and 20 rays 1-4cm long leading to umbellets with a similar number of raylets (your Authors term to be consistent with other umbellifer terminology - but usually called flower-stalks by lay-persons). Bracts beneath the umbel are absent in Greater Burnet-saxifrage. Bracteoles below the umbeletts are usually absent. The length of all the stems, rays and raylets leads to a rather open structure for Greater Burnet-saxifrage.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Long smooth hairless stem, slightly ridged/ribbed leading to 10-20 long rays, each leading to a similar number of thin long 'raylets' aka flower stalks. All hairless and smooth.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
An outer umbellet.


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Flowers actinomorphic with only the largest being slightly hemi-zygomorphic. This is the terminal umbel (at the summit of the main stem) and only this umbel has mostly hermaphroditic flowers - with both stamens and stigma. (All the other umbels are either almost or entirely male).


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
All the flowers in an umbel of umbellets (or perhaps on any one plant) are the same colour, either pink or white.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
One of the pink umbeletes. They have beetroot coloured ovaries.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The central flower is unusual; it has three (rather than the normal two) ovaries each with a single style - this one is thus female, whereas the one above left has 5 stamens and no styles so is male only.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
An ordinary white-flowered specimen. Five white petals and five very long white filaments tipped by white anthers. The styles (centre, bottom) usually number two, are a white tinged pale-green, each with a white style which are both close to each other and parallel (for now; they repel each other strongly in opposite directions when fruiting), tipped by a concolorous small tiny blob of a stigma.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
There is only a slight zygomorphic asymmetry regarding the size of the 5 five petals, although as always for umbellifers, there is a zygomorphic assymetry associated with their alignment with ovaries: where 3 are associated with one of the ovaries and just two with the other. The petals usually have a nick at their apex.

Top left is a hermaphroditic flower with both stamens and styles.



16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The umbel of the main stem in fruit, the only one with hermaphroditic flowers (all other umbels are usually populated by male flowers only). This one has 15 umbellets.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The fruits have a greenish-white stylopodium atop and two stigmas which will bend over at right-angles away from each other when ripe (when brown). Ho hairs.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Lower leaves are longer and larger with more leaflets (which are broader).


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Lower leaves. The leaves are alsmost always singly pinnate. Leaflets broad with bluntish teeth.


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Leaves on Greater Burnet-saxifrage are variable; these looking more like those of Lesser Water-Parsnip, and but for the fact that the unbels lack any bracts or bracteoles (and that the stigmas are longer than those of Lesser Water-Parsnip), this specimen could be mistaken for such. The leaves usually have fine points at the tips of the teeth (but some specimens have lobes instead of teeth).


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Leaves slightly shiny on upper surface and with coarse teeth. Up to 4 pairs of leaflets plus a terminal 3-lobed leaflet. Stem is ridged.


16th July 2017, nr Havannah flashes, St Helens Canal, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
An upper stem leaf, coming from a sheath. Upper leaves are shorter, with fewer lealets. The leaflets are narrower and with a few pointed teeth. sdtems slightly ribbed or ridged.


Easily mistaken for : Burnet-Saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga) but that is shorter and has longer leaflets singly-pinnate leaves with more leaflets.

Easily mis-identified as : Lesser Water-Parsnip (Berula erecta) but that has bracts beneath the umbels and bracteoles beneath the umbellets.

Some similarities to : Greater Water-parsnip (Sium latifolium) but that too has bracts beneath both umbels and umbellets and at up to 2m high is far taller.

No relation to : Burnets such as Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), Salad Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba ssp. sanguisorba) or Fodder Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba ssp. balearicum) [plants with similar names from the Rose Family (Roseaceae)] nor to any Saxifrages such as Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata), Starry Saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris) or Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) [plants from the Saxifrage Family (Saxifragaceae)].

It is native and grows on shady grassy road verges, hedgerows and in the dark margins of woods within the enlarged central area of the UK (encompassing Lancs, Yorks, Derbys, Midlands, Shropshire, Leicester and those counties inbetween) with populations also occurring in Kent and South Devon.

The leaves of this plant (which are mostly singly-pinnate, but a few are bi-pinnate) are variable with regards to both the shape and the teeth of the leaflets of which it is constructed. Wikipedia makes mention of five varieties, which may account for the variability in leaflet shape, assuming that these also grow in the UK. The varieties mentioned are rosea, macrodonta, orientalis, dissecta and bipinnata, with the varietal name seemingly accounting for at least some of the reported possible leaf shapes. But no UK plant ID books make any mention of these varieties, so they may not be extant in the UK.

A famous immediate relative of Greater Burnet-Saxifrage, in the same Pimpinella genus, is called Anise (Pimpinella anisum) (which should not be confused with the totally un-related (they are not even from the same Apiaceae / Umbellifer family) Star Anise (Illicium verum) nor with Japanese Star Anise (Illicium anisatum) which both have similar but not identical tastes - but are less expensive to produce than Anise itself, which has rapidly lost ground to these near-substitutes). Anise is used to flavour Aniseed Balls and several liqueurs such as Ricard, Pernod, Ouzo, Absinthe, Abisette and Sambuca amongst many others from around the World.

MAJOR CONSTITUENTS OF the ESSENTIAL OIL

The essential oil is claimed to contain:
  • 25.3% alpha-Bisabolene
  • 7.8% MethylThymolEther
  • 7.2% p-Cymene-2,5-Diol ** not drawn ...
  • 6.9%IsoPropyl Tiglate ** not drawn ...
  • 4.5% 2,2-DiMethylPentanal
  • 4.4%% 2,5-DiMethoxy-p-Cymene
  • 3.0% Curcumene
  • 3.7% Nonane
  • 2.8% Caryophyllene Oxide
  • 1.9% Dictamnol
  • ??% PseudoEugenol ** not drawn ...
Plus over 100 other products below 1%, some of which may well be significant.



2,5-Dimethoxy-p-Cymene (aka ThymoHydroQuinone DimethylEther) is found in the essential oils of plants belonging to the Dandelion & Daisy Family (Asteraceae) such as as well as in this Umbellifer Family (Apiaceae) plant Greater Burnet-saxifrage. 2,5-Dimethoxy-p-Cymene is closely related to ThymoQuinone and it's dimer DiThymoQuinone which both occur in Nigella sativa, a non-native plant which is not listed in Stace III.




β-Caryophyllene also occurs both in Hop (Humulus lupinus) and Hemp (Cannabis sativa) as well as Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Cinnamon, Cloves and Black Pepper (Piper nigrum). It is an aromatic bicyclic sesquiterpene but with only a weak aromatic taste but can nevertheless activate the endocannabinoid system in mammals. It is not psychoactive and targets only the CB2 receptors in the human body - which have promise to combat many inflammatory disorders such as Multiple Schlerosis, Arthritis, Bladder Cystitis and some kinds of dementia without the associated 'high's of Marijuana. Found in many preservatives, fragrances, additives and flavouring agents, it has a fairly rare cyclobutane moiety.

Caryophyllene Oxide is the same as β-caryophyllene but with the double-bond in the 9-membered carbon ring replaced with an epoxy group. It has both a woody type smell and flavour and is the chemical by which cannabis is detected by nose; it has a very powerful smell (or so some sources on the internet say). This too is found in Cloves, Hop, Rosemary, Black Pepper and Hemp. Your Author, however, would have thought it to be fairly toxic with an epoxy group. It is, however, apparently well known as a preservative in food, drugs and cosmetics due to its strong anti-fungal properties. But this use is under scrutiny (2013) by the European Food Safety Authority due to its potentially hazardous chemical structure. It has, however, been found to exhibit no genotoxic effects and is devoid of mutagenic effects, so may pass muster for use in food.




At 25% occurrence in the essential oil α-Bisabolene (aka cis-α-Bisabolene) is by far the most significant secondary metabolite within the plant. It is an unsaturated sesquiterpene hydrocarbon, which has two other isomers, β-Bisabolene and γ-Bisabolene, which have not been found within Greater Burnet-Saxifrage. These Bisabolenes are also found in the essential oil of a wide variety of other aromatic plants such as Lemon and Oregano and in several fungi. Various derivative compounds of Bisabolene serve as pheromones to differing insects such as Fruit Flies and stink Bugs.

Bisabolenes within plants are intermediates in the synthesis of the sesquiterpenoid Hernandulcin, which was found in flowers of Lippia dulcis (aka Phyla dulcis) in 1985 and is over 1000 times sweeter than is Sucrose (sugar). Hernandulcin has a minty aftertaste and does not cause tooth decay so should be a good candidate for use in toothpastes.

α-Curcumene should not be confused with the orange-yellow powder Circumin which is used culinarily in curries and the like, and is the main component of Turmeric. Curcumene is a sesquiterpenoid. it has a herb type of taste and is also found in Pepper, Lovage, Wild Carrot and Rosemary. It has a stronger antibiotic activity against Saccharomyces cerevisae and less towards other microorganisms. It has at least two isomers: β-Curcumene and γ-Curcumene, which have the double bonds in differing positions within the same general shape.

When the two are compared closely from a skeletal point of view, α-Bisabolene and α-Curcumene have identical skeletal frameworks, it is just the number and placement of the double bonds which varies.




The presence of PseudoIsoEugenol is chemosystematic indicator of the Genus Pimpinella, for they all are said to possess it, and is likely a contributor to the anti-microbial activity in this genus. Eugenol has no known presence in Pimpinella, but is shown for comparison only - two changes are apparent; the -OH moiety has moved as has the double-bond on the aliphatic PhenylPropene side-chain. PseudoIsoEugenol is thus an isomer of Eugenol (which itself is toxic). Within pimpinella genera PseudoIsoEugenol also occurs in the form of several differing esters of common acids, such as those of AngelicAcid, TiglicAcid, 2-MethylButanoic Acid and isoButyric Acid plus others. Or with the side-chain bearing an epoxide moiety and other changes.




Nonane is a fully saturated linear hydrocarbon with 9 carbon atoms that is a clear, odourless flammable liquid used in jet fuels and for tractors. It smells of petrol.

2,2-DiMethylPentanal is a flammable aldehyde based upon a methane skeleton.




Dictamnol is a Trinor-Guaine type sesquiterpene with a fused 5+7 membered ring skeleton like that of Azulene but lacking most of the double bonds of Azulene, thus it does not behave like an aromatic compound. It is found in several Pimpinella species, including this one. It is also found in the plant Dittany Dictamnus dasycarpus (a non-native plant belonging to the Rue family which does not appear in the book commonly called 'Stace III') from which it got its name. [Dittony should not be confused with Dittander (Lepidium latifolium)].



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Distribution
 family8Carrot family8Apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Pimpinella
Pimpinella
(Burnet-Saxifrages)

GREATER BURNET-SAXIFRAGE

Pimpinella major

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]