GREATER BURNET SAXIFRAGE: LITTLE USED NOW: HEALTH BENEFITS AND HISTORY OF USES OF GREATER BURNET SAXIFRAGE
GREATER BURNET SAXIFRAGE, PIMPINELLA MAJOR (OR MAGNA)
This plant is in the same genus as its smaller relative, lesser burnet saxifrage and like it, is no relation to either burnet or saxifrage. They are both members of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family of plants and so are related to carrots,dill, fennel, cow parsley, angelica and anise which is in the same genus of Pimpinella. It is similar in most respects to its smaller namesake and used for much the same purposes, with the seeds mainly being used in powder form for flatulence and to calm colicky pains.
It is native to the Balkans parts of
Europe including and to Britain Scandinavia and the Caucasus region. This burnet saxifrage grows to heights of around three feet and spreads up to two feet. Its leaves are larger than those of its lesser relative and the flower heads are bigger.
Wtriting in his herbal in the 17th century Nicholas Culpepper says that the herb was used as a wound healer as in this passage from his Complete Herbal:-
“Government and virtues. It is under the Moon. The roots of Burnet Saxifrage are hot and dry, carminative expelling wind, and are good for the colic, and weakness of the stomach; they are likewise diuretic, and useful aginst the stone and gravel, as also for the scurvy. They possess the same properties of the parsleys, but in provoking urine and easing the pains thereof, are much more effectual. The roots or seed used either in powder or decoction, help the mother, procure the courses, remove tough phlegm, and cure venom, &c. The distilled water thereof, boiled with castoreum, is good for cramps and convulsions, and the seed used in comfits (like carroway seeds) will answer the same purposes. The juice of the herb dropped into grievous wounds of the head, dries up their moistures, and heals them.”
However it would seem that this pant, like the lesser one, can be used in a tisane made from the chopped root, dried or fresh, which can also be used to clear the skin of blemishes and rejuvenate older skin. This one is not seemingly used for culinary purposes, the lesser one being the herb of choice in the past. However in most ways it can be used as its smaller relative if you can’t find that one.