Garden Fundamentals - Learn about plants and garden design

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba; photo by Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba; by Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba is a delicate looking plant with unusual nodding, bottlebrush-like spikes of white fluffy flowers. The shape and quantity of the flowers make it stand out in the border at a time when few other plants are flowering. It looks delicate, but does not need staking.


Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba; by Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba; by Robert Pavlis

The species Sanguisorba tenuifoliais is normally a pink colour, with the alba variety being white.S. tenuifolia v. alba has a number of common names including white Japanese burnet, white Oriental burnet and narrow leaf burnet. The word ‘burnet’ is used to describe any Sanguisorba.

It is similar to Sanguisorba canadensis, but the latter has white flowers that are not nodding.

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba; by Robert Pavlis

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba; by Robert Pavlis

The plant in the pictures was grown from seed obtained from the ORGS&HPS SeedEx. It seems quite happy in normal, dry garden soil, but probably would prefer a wetter condition. Most sources say it is not drought tolerant.

Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba

 (san-GWIS-or-ba  ten-yoo-ih-FOH-lee-uh)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 100 cm (3.5ft)

Bloom Time: mid to late summer

Natural Range: Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Russia

Habitat: forest margins, meadows, grassy mountain slopes, damp places; 200-1700m

Synonyms:  Sanguisorba parviflora

Cultivation  Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba

Light: full sun

Soil: average garden soil

Water: moist to boggy conditions

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4– 9

Propagation: seed, division

If you like this post, please share .......
Robert Pavlis
Editor of

I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. 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!

I hope you find Garden Fundamentals an educational site that

6 Responses to 'Sanguisorba tenuifolia v. alba'

  1. Kriss Gandier says:

    It sort of looks like a grass variety. Some of my favorite plants I’ve had but lost over the years were: Korean violet (viola sylvestris), Sanicula caerulescens (Blue Sanicle), Saxifraga fortunei ‘Silver Velvet’ , Acanthus mollis ‘Tasmanian Angel’, Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’ (Mayapple), and Oxalis adenophylla. Do you have any knowledge of these plants and whether its’s possible to be successful with them in our climate, and where I can get them again. I have had all of them, except for the Kaleidoscope Mayapple, in the past. I would love to try getting them again.

    • Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’ seems to be a zone 6 plant. Acanthus mollis is not hardy in zone 5. I am not familiar with the others. If they are hardy in your zone, then you should be able to grow them .

  2. Regina says:

    Beautiful, Robert! Does this reseed or get a little overly aggressive? Would love to try it in my zone 5 garden.

  3. I remember how superb it was looking at the end of August! I would say it looks more attractive than S. canadensis. but maybe there is a space for both of them in a garden.

Please let me know what you think - Leave a Reply