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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Salad Burnet? Oh Deer!


When we do classes and presentations people often ask how to keep deer out of their herb gardens.

It usually isn’t much of a challenge.  Most of the herbs that we enjoy have a very strong smell and deer generally don’t like herbs that have a strong smell.

An exception to that general rule, that we have known about for some time, is Basil.  Deer actually like Basil.

Also, we discovered in our tests garden in northern Michigan last year, the deer cropped the Anise Hyssop off right at the ground, and completely ignored the other herbs in the garden. So there was another exception.

Today we learned about another one.

We live across the street from the International Wildlife Refuge, so it isn’t unusual for us to see deer out the front door, and every once in a while they come over to our side of the street, but when I went outside today, the deer tracks were 8 feet from our front door.


It was clear that the deer had come right up to the herb bed, and found the Salad Burnet buried under the snow.



It made a nice dinner I’m sure.

Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is hardy herbaceous perennial native to Europe Asia and Africa.  Unlike many herbaceous perennials in this area, it grows year round and is often alive under the snow long after the other herbs have expended themselves for the year.

The young tender leaves are often used in salads, and have a flavor that resembles cucumbers.

It can be used in a tea to treat diarrhea, and was a favorite herb of Thomas Jefferson and Sir Francis Bacon. Thomas Jefferson grew is specifically because it grew so quickly and could be used to control erosion.

The species Latin name, sanguisorba, translates as "blood-drink," referring to a medieval traditional use of salad burnet to stop internal bleeding and hemorrhages. Soldiers of  that period would drink tea made from the herb before going into battle, as well, because they believed it would make any wounds they received less severe and they would be less likely to bleed to death.

Salad burnet was also thought to be a cure for the bubonic plague and was one of 21 herbs combined and dissolved in wine to make an anti-plague tonic.

The leaves blend well with rosemary and tarragon for chicken or fish and  can also be used in any casserole dish, dip or soup that calls for dill, oregano or basil. They should be used fresh or frozen, but don’t have much flavor when dried.

A mature plant resembles a fern and can grow up to 20 inches high and 20 inches across.



And as we learned today, deer like it too!

Wonder how it would taste on venison?



  1. I have a client that had a heard of deer. I planted 6 anise hyssop in one of her beds. They did not touch it, but maybe it is becasue they were busy eating all the other things I planted that say deer do not like it. They are the Heuchera and the astilbe. You just can't win! I do like Salad Burnet a lot! I planted a herb garden for another client of mine and she loves it too. I love the form and fine texture of the foliage.Where are your test gardens? I live in Northern MI too!