Photo courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension
Growth Characteristics: Small burnet is 0.75 to 2 feet tall, and 1 to 2 feet wide. It begins grow in early spring, and flowers in July.
Flowers: Flowers are crowded into dense, round to oval, head. The blooms are greenish with purple-tinged styles. There are 4 sepals, no petals, 12 stamens, and 2 pistils. Each flower is subtended by a hairy bract. The sepals are united below to form a cup bearing small warts on the outer surface; the lobes are up to ¼ inch long.
Fruits/Seeds: Small burnet produces several achenes, each of which is enclosed by the persitent flora cup up to ¼ inch long.
Leaves: Alternate arrangement, each leaf is pinnately compound with 7-21 leaflets. Leaflets are nearly round, ½ - 1 inch long, smooth or sparsely hairy, coarsely toothed.
Stems: Upright, branched, up to 2 feet tall, hairy.
Often found in moist, disturbed soil, including roadsides and fields. It is frost, cold, and drought tolerant. It can grow in areas with as low as 10 inches of precipitation, but grows best in areas receiving 18 inches or more of annual precipitation. It is found at elevations from 5,000 to 7,000 feet in Utah.
Soils: Likes average, medium wet, well-drained soils in full sun. It can grow in slightly acidic and mildly alkaline soils.
Small burnet grows well in arid environments, and is often chosen as part of seeding mixtures on western rangelands. It establishes well from commercial seed, and can be established in 1-2 years. Areas with Small burnet should be rested every 3 or 4 years to allow for seed to set.
Small burnet is often used for reseeding after fires for erosion control and to help deter invasive and noxious weed establishment. It is also used in seeding greenstrips for fire control. Small burnet has been planted, along with other forbs, to control cheatgrass, red brome, and medusahead. It competes fairly well once it has established.
Small burnet provides good forage for many types of wildlife, including big game, rabbits, and birds including Greater sage-grouse. It provides high-value forage for livestock and is especially valuable as sheep forage. It generally stays green and palatable throughout the growing season and into winter. It is high in protein and carotene.