Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet)

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Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba canadensis is rare in gardens but should be grown more often. It’s a bog plant and this may lead people to think it needs a wet spot to do well, but my plant grows in a normal garden bed that rarely gets watered and I have grown it from seed. It flowers at about 120 cm (4 ft) and this shorter stature may be due to lower moisture levels. It shows no wilting or dry leaf edges due to a lack of water.

Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis
Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis

It’s common names include Canada burnet, the American burnet and the white burnet. In the wild it grows along rivers, in swamps and tidal marshes. Since this type of habitat is quickly being lost in North America, the Canada burnet is also becoming rare and has reached extinction levels in some states.

The Canada burnet has flowers that are creamy white and have an unusual shape and texture, reminding one of a bottle brush. The flowers are held well above the foliage making for a great display. Even out of flower, the leaves have an interesting odd-pinnate compound shape and it’s very pest free.

Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis
Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis
Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis
Sanguisorba canadensis (Canada burnet, American burnet), photo by Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba canadensis

(san-GWIS-or-ba  ka-na-DEN-sis)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 120 – 180cm (2-4 ft)

Bloom Time: late summer into early fall

Natural Range: Eastern North America

Habitat: swamps, bogs

Synonyms:  Sanguisorba sitchensis, Sanguisorba stipula

Cultivation of Sanguisorba canadensis:

Light: sun to part shade

Soil: variable

Water: moist to wet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Propagation: seed, division, stem cuttings

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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