Sanguisorba minor, a plant whose behavior can become invasive

Sanguisorba minor or Poterium sanguisorba also known as Lesser Pimpernel , Knife Grass, Knife Grass, Pimpinela or Lesser Sanguisorba. It belongs to the Rosaceae family and is native to Europe.

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The name of the genus derives from the Latin sanguis  “blood”, thanks to its ability to stop bleeding. While the minor  Latin word  refers to size.

Sanguisorba minor characteristics

Perennial herb, rhizomatous, with stems up to 80 cm, which are erect and with a basal rosette of leaves.

The leaves resist very well into winter and appear again in the spring.

The flowers are solitary, with a bracteolate peduncle, with 5 sepals and 4 whorls, red in color that sprout in early summer and form small spherical heads of about 12 mm in diameter.

The fruit is small and dry, somewhat woody, reticulated or irregularly crested.

Sanguisorba minor care

Ideal plant to place in full sun. In terms of temperature, it is able to resist -6˚C

It is a species that develops in calcareous and well-drained soils. But it tolerates those saline, poor and dry soils.

Irrigation has no major drawback, since it is ultra-resistant to drought. So it is capable of revegetation on dry and steep slopes of coastal areas.

It is sown in spring or late summer, in rows about 25 cm apart.

Compost is also not a problem if you don’t have one. However, having it will give beautiful and vigorous flowers.

It can be multiplied by means of seeds that are planted in the spring, by division of roots in the fall, or, by means of root cuttings (but the latter method has not been very successful).

It is worth mentioning that its invasive behavior can be dangerous for natural and semi-natural ecosystems, although its diffusion is local. It can even invade anthropized media.

The bitterness of its leaves is due to the presence of magnesium chloride, which gives it purgative properties. In this way it is rejected by herbivores and is not controlled in this way.


The tender leaves, with a bittersweet flavor, can be used to eat in salads, to make vinegar, butter or soups.

In fact, this plant is part of the Frankfurt green sauce. It is also used as an aperitif and in digestive system disorders.

image courtesy of: Harry Rose

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