The crimson sister of the burnet

Dhe meadows that I cycle past on the way to the office are amazingly full of juice. In contrast to the lawns on the banks of the Main, the polo field or the blackberry hedges on the railway embankment, which also belong to my route and offer a sad sight withered, they are extensively green. They belong to the flood areas along the Nidda, should a hundred-year flood threaten. Not that that’s to be expected in the next few days. But the little river that has its source in the Vogelsberg and meanders around 90 kilometers through the area to its confluence with the Main, losing more than 600 meters in altitude in the process, still has enough water for the water lilies to swim on it. And here both herons (in the morning) and anglers (rather in the evening) can practice their patience, sometimes close together.

Sonja Spanish

Editor in the “Science” department of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

Mills were once operated with the Nidda; its course has been straightened, forced into channels and deepened. Since the 1990s, however, it has been renatured in several sections, so that it is no longer just intended that sewage gases should form in its isolated backwaters. Flood dams were removed and relocated, the Höchst Weir, for example, was dismantled and a 150 meter long “bypass channel” designed. What wasn’t exactly available for free, but today people and fish apparently like it – I still wouldn’t call it a “beach”, although city brochures like to talk about it. And not all creatures are welcome: Egyptian goose, beaver, muskrat or coypu have different opinions.

But being able to watch an “ugly duckling” grow into a white swan makes my bike tour even sweeter. And when recently one of the adult animals disappeared for a few days, I was concerned, because the swans are one of my constants on the river, as are the “droplets of blood” along the way. These aren’t the only plants that catch one’s eye on the Nidda Meadows, but the dark red inflorescences of Sanguisorba officinalisthe great burnet, have fascinated me since I was a child: because these striking bulges sometimes tower more than a meter high over other plants and, in contrast to the green, are actually reminiscent of drops of blood.

Belongs in the real green sauce

However, the Latin name refers to its traditional use to stop bleeding, not the color. The genus of the rose family includes nearly 150 species, and while the burnet, S. minor, better known as burnet, likes it sunny and dry, the large species prefers moist habitats. The perennials develop nut fruits and are recommended for apothecary style beds. The herb packet for a Frankfurt green sauce should not be without the burnet burnet, with its cucumber-like taste, and root powder, which is widespread throughout the northern hemisphere S. officinalis enrich not only Chinese recipes. Tannins have an astringent effect, but as is usual with medicinal plants, many of these effects are also attributed.

Some effects for the more than 270 substances were found in pharmacological studies Sanguisorbaspecies, they are considered anti-inflammatory, haemostatic, antiviral and bacterial, protect the liver, prevent cancer and are said to help with obesity. Of course only in certain concentrations, which you can hardly achieve with salads or herb sauces. They still taste good, and according to a review in “Frontiers in Pharmacology” from 2021, there has never been a trace of toxic alkaloids. And it is recommended to examine the positive properties more closely – and to use them.


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