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The Great Burnet, called waremoko in Japanese, is in flower from June to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry moist or wet soil.


Meadow; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Young leaves and flower buds – raw or cooked[13, 61, 105]. They should be harvested in the spring before the plant comes into flower[9]. A cucumber flavour[7, 46], they can be added to salads or used as a potherb[183]. The fresh or dried leaves are used as a tea substitute[183].

Medicinal Uses

Great burnet is employed mainly for its astringent action, being used to slow or arrest blood flow. It is taken both internally and externally internally and is a safe and effective treatment. Modern research in China has shown that the whole herb heals burns more effectively than the extracted tannins (the astringent component of the plant). Patients suffering from eczema showed marked improvement when treated with an ointment made from the root and petroleum jelly. The leaves are astringent, refrigerant, styptic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of fevers and bleeding. The plant is prevented from flowering and then the leaves are harvested in July and dried for later use. The root is anodyne, astringent, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, tonic and vulnerary. It is used in the treatment of peptic ulcers, haematuria, menorrhagia, bloody stool, dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids and burns. The root is harvested in the autumn as the leaves die down and dried for later use. All parts of the plant are astringent, but the root is most active. Great burnet is an excellent internal treatment for all sorts of abnormal discharges including diarrhoea, dysentery and leucorrhoea. It is used externally in the treatment of burns, scalds, sores and skin diseases. This species was ranked 19th in a Chinese survey of 250 potential anti-fertility plants. It does well in ordinary soil or poor soil that does not dry out. Sun or shade. Source: Plants for a Future Database.

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Below is Linda Inoki’s article on the Great Burnet

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2001 IN BLOOM

Waremoko (Great burnet) By LINDA INOKI

“Tomoko got off the train at Nikko, and a chill unknown to Tokyo at this season bit into her. Silver-gray pampas grass spread out on both sides of the road. Within this sea, autumn bellflowers, valerians, gentians, teasels and burnet waved in the wind.” 

-From “The End of Summer” by Harumi Setouchi (b. 1922) Translated by Janine Beichman (Kodansha International)


Great burnet is a common wayside plant with many slender, candelabralike branches. It grows up to 1 meter tall, so dragonflies often perch on its tips while seeming to consider their next move. Each “flower” is actually a cluster of many that open, from the top downward, like cells in a tiny honeycomb. Approximately seven species grow in Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, while others in this widespread family grow from Siberia to Britain. As the great burnet’s Latin name, Sanguisorba officinalis, indicates, this herb can “absorb blood,” or stop bleeding. It starts blooming in summer, but its deep, tawny colors, blending with silvery grasses, somehow best suit the Japanese autumn


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