Plant Profiles Yellow Rattle

The Yellow rattle is a flowering plant .It’s proper name is Rhinanthus minor and is a part of the genus Thinanthus in the family Orobanchaceae. It is a native of Western Asia and Europe. It is a semi-parasite of the British grasslands.

For centuries it has been an unwelcome plant in grassland areas. It weakens the grass and it hampers the ability of grass to grow and spread. The Yellow rattle can be a useful plant when it comes to opening up the grass and letting other plants have light and nutrients to grow. It also helps wipe out clover. Using a hay maker can help spread the seeds so they can more quickly. This can help useful species to thrive along with this plant. The Yellow rattle plant is also known by the name The Vampire Plant due to it parasitic nature. It is a very beautiful plant that attracts bumblebees.

The Yellow rattle is a herbaceous (a plant whose leaves and stems die down to the soil level at the end of the growing season) annual plant. It gets some of its nutrients from the roots of surrounding plants, thus its parasitic nature.

This plant can grow up from twenty five to fifty centimeters tall. It has opposite leaves that are simple with a serrated edge.

The pretty flowers are yellow and they grow on a terminal raceme.(an inflorescence with singly stalked flowers located on an unbranched axis). The fruit of the Yellow rattle is in a dry capsule. This capsule contains loose seeds that rattle when it is ripe.The plant’s name comes from the flower color and the rattling seeds. The Yellow rattle grows well in meadows or dry fields. It blooms between the months of June and September. This species is associated with Machair habitat in Ireland and Scotland.

Yellow rattle seed is short lived and needs to be sown during the the autumn months from seeds that were harvested the same year. Keeping the grass short until the beginning of March lets the seedlings establish themselves. Do not cut the grass until the end of July to let the Yellow rattle bloom and go to seed. After that it needs to be cut short.  Cutting the Yellow rattle before it can go to seed will stop its growth. The Greater yellow Rattle once grew profusely in Scotland but now is very rare.

On a safety note, a large animal of the Yellow Rattle would not be good for an animal to consume.