These plants grow from creeping rhizomes. Leaves are divided featherwise into toothed, oval or roundish leaflets. Small flowers carried in dense, feathery spikes much like small bottle-brush (Callistemon) blossoms.
S. canadensis. AMERICAN BURNET, CANADIAN BURNET. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to eastern North America. To 36 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide, with bright green foliage and 8-in. spikes of white flowers in late autumn. Dies to the ground in winter even in mild climates.
S. minor. GARDEN BURNET, SALAD BURNET. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Native to Europe, western Asia. Can reach 112 ft. high and wide but is usually kept clipped to a few inches to maintain a fresh supply of new foliage. Leaves have a mild cucumber flavor and are used in salads, soups, cool drinks. Can be used as an edging for border or herb garden. If not sheared too low, bears roundish, inch-long clusters of red flowers from late spring to midsummer. Self-sows prolifically if allowed to go to seed. Evergreen in all but the Upper South.
S. obtusa. JAPANESE BURNET. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Japan. To 4 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with grayish green leaves and pink flower spikes 4 in. tall in summer. Evergreen in all but the coldest winters.
S. officinalis. GREATER BURNET. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to northern regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Grows 34 ft. tall and about half as wide. Basal leaves can reach 20 in. long; leaves on upright, reddish stems are smaller. Young leaves are tasty in soups and salads. Dark reddish-purple flowers are held well above the foliage mass in summer; may need staking. Remove spent blooms to prevent rampant self-seeding. 'Red Thunder' has ruby-red flowers on stiff stems.