Burnet-saxifrage is a downy, perennial member of the carrot family with a tough, slightly ridged stem and an umbel of white flowers. The basal leaves, which are pinnate with toothed leaflets, resemble those of Salad burnet hence the first part of its common name. The stem leaves differ in being twice pinnate with almost linear leaflets. Flowering occurs from May to September.
Burnet-saxifrage is a rosette forming, winter-green perennial of meadows, pastures and woodland edges. Its long tap root allows it to exploit dry, well drained, calcareous soils (particularly chalk and limestone downs) other base rich soils and, occasionally, acidic sands. Burnet-saxifrage prefers short turf and is suppressed and eventually lost when grasses become long, either through neglect or because of high fertility.
Vegetative regeneration can occur by means of offsets but it is relatively rare and the plant is highly dependent upon seedling establishment to maintain its population. Seed can survive being eaten by cattle and this can result in it being dispersed into new sites.
In common with other Apiacae (Carrot family) seed requires a period of chilling to brake dormancy. It must, therefore, be sown in the autumn.