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Greater Burnet-saxifrage

Pimpinella major

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Grassland, hedgerows, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, waterside, woodland.

White, 5 petals
The flowers can be either white or pink. The petals are notched. They appear in flat-topped umbels measuring up to 6cm across. The umbels have between 11 and 16 stalks. Flowers have no bracts. Flowers have 5 stamens each. Pollinated by bees.
Egg-shaped, ridged, hairless, dark brown fruits, about 3mm long. The seeds ripen in July and August.
The leaves are dark green and 1-pinnate. They are glossy and coarsely toothed. There are 1 to 4 pairs of narrowly oval leaflets and the terminal leaflet is 3-lobed. The smooth stems are hollow and deeply grooved. The stem leaves are smaller than the basal leaves. Basal leaves are long-stalked.
Other Names:
Greater Burnet, Hollowstem Burnet Saxifrage, Large Burnet.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Pimpinella major, also known as greater burnet or large burnet, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apiaceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in grassland, meadows, and pastures. P. major is a herbaceous perennial that grows to a height of up to 1 meter. It has long, narrow, green leaves and small, pink or red flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant is valued for its medicinal properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions and respiratory problems. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species. P. major is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is known for its ability to tolerate dry, rocky soil.


Greater Burnet-Saxifrage (Pimpinella major) is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Apiaceae family. This plant is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and is commonly found growing in damp meadows, grasslands, and along river banks.

The Greater Burnet-Saxifrage has delicate, feathery leaves and delicate white or pinkish-white flowers that bloom in early summer. The leaves have a pleasant aroma, similar to that of anise, and the plant itself is often used in traditional herbal medicine for its medicinal properties.

In traditional medicine, the plant was used as a tonic to improve digestion and as a mild sedative. It was also believed to have diuretic properties, helping to reduce fluid retention, and to have mild pain-relieving effects. The leaves and stems of the plant contain compounds such as anethole, which are thought to be responsible for these properties.

In modern times, the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage is still used in some herbal remedies and is considered to have a number of health benefits. Some studies suggest that it may have anti-inflammatory effects and may be useful in treating digestive complaints such as bloating and flatulence.

The plant is also used in some cosmetics and skincare products, as it is believed to have mild skin-soothing properties. It is sometimes added to creams and lotions to help soothe and hydrate dry or irritated skin.

The Greater Burnet-Saxifrage is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow in a variety of conditions. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and partial shade, but will tolerate full sun if the soil remains moist. The plant is also relatively drought-tolerant and can withstand periods of dryness, making it a great choice for gardeners in drier climates.

The plant is propagated from seed and is often grown in mixed herb gardens or wildflower meadows. It is a low-maintenance plant that does not require regular pruning or grooming, although it may need to be staked if the stems become too tall.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage is also a popular choice for its attractive flowers and leaves. The delicate, lacy foliage and delicate white or pinkish-white flowers make it a great choice for a cottage garden or wildflower meadow. The plant is also a great choice for naturalistic or woodland gardens, where it can be used as a ground cover or allowed to spread freely.

While the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage is not a common household plant, it is widely available from nurseries and seed suppliers. It is also readily available from online sources, making it a great choice for gardeners who want to add a touch of wild beauty to their garden.

It's important to note that while the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage has been traditionally used for medicinal purposes, it is not recommended to use the plant for self-treatment without first consulting a healthcare professional. While the plant is generally considered safe, some people may experience side effects or allergic reactions, and it can interact with certain medications.

Additionally, it's crucial to make sure that you have correctly identified the plant before using it for medicinal purposes. There are many similar-looking plants that can be toxic, and it's essential to be able to accurately identify the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage to ensure safe use.

In terms of conservation, the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage is not currently listed as an endangered species. However, the plant's natural habitats are under threat from development, farming, and other human activities, so it's important to support conservation efforts to protect the plant's natural habitats.

Overall, the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage is a fascinating and useful plant that has a rich history of use in traditional medicine and cosmetics. Whether you're a gardener, herbalist, or simply someone interested in nature, this plant is worth learning more about. By understanding the history and benefits of the Greater Burnet-Saxifrage, we can better appreciate this beautiful and versatile plant and ensure its continued survival for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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