Yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor

Status
Best Time to See
Colour
Habitat Grassland

‘And where high grasses waveShall great moon-daisies blink’With rattle and sorrel sharpAnd Robin’s ragged pink’-    Robert Bridges, “The Idle Flowers”

Description

One of our most important meadow wild flowers.  It is hemi-parasitical on grasses and so weakens them, thereby giving other wild flowers a chance to compete and gradually establish themselves.

How to spot it

An erect plant with longish stems without many leaves. When the yellow tubular flowers fade, the calyx behind them becomes a silvery sphere in which the seeds ripen – the rattle.

Where it grows

On nutrient-poor grasslands, including permanent pastures hay meadows and dunes. Also on roadsides and waste ground.

Best time to see

In flower from May to July

How's it doing?

Yellow rattle underwent a marked decline in Britain throughout the 20th century, thought to be a result of changes in farming practices.

3 things you might not know

  • It used to be said that when the yellow rattle was in flower, the hay was ready for cutting
  • Cattle love yellow rattle – when let into a field it is the first thing they will eat
  • The plant’s leaves make a yellow dye