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

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.


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.


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Flowers white (or pink) with two prominent stigmas. The stalks of the umbels (peduncles) are longer than the stalks of the umbellets (rays).


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).


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Leaves with coarse teeth and up to 4 pairs of leaflets plus a terminal 3-lobed leaflet. Seenm by transmitted light.


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. Stem is ridged.


17th Aug 2015, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The fruits possess a stylopodium (the pale-green summit of the fruit). Fruit 3-4mm long, ovoid, markedly flattened in one direction than the other.


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 umbellules.

Some similarities to : Greater Water-parsnip (Sium latifolium) but that too has bracts beneath both umbels and umbellules 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 UK plant ID books make no mention of these varieties!

A famous immediate relative of this, 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 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.


  Pimpinella major  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Apiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Carrot family8Apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Pimpinella
Pimpinella
(Burnet-Saxifrages)

GREATER BURNET-SAXIFRAGE

Pimpinella major

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]