Yellow Rattle - (Rhinanthus minor) Wildflower Open Pollinated Wildflowers Meadow Flower

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Yellow Rattle - (Rhinanthus minor) Wildflower Open Pollinated Wildflowers Meadow Flower



Rhinanthus minor, known as Yellow Rattle, is a herbaceous wildflower with beautiful golden yellow flowers in the genus Rhinanthus, in the family Orobanchaceae. Yellow Rattle is a valuable wildflower famous for its ability to reduce the vigour of grass, and works well in existing meadows or in large areas that are mainly grass where complete removal of grasses and weeds would be difficult.

Yellow Rattle seeks out the roots of grasses - it operates as a partial parasite on grasses, and will lock its roots onto the roots of grasses. Once contact is made, it draws water and nutrients from the grasses and suppresses the growth by up to sixty percent and enables other flowers more room to grow. This factor makes Yellow Rattle a much sought after plant to grow in meadows and wildflower gardens where grass will typically overtake the flowers. Yellow Rattle keeps the grass in check - in turn, without grass, the Yellow Rattle will struggle to thrive and eventually perish so there is a fine balance between having grass, but not too much as it is critical for the survival of Yellow Rattle.

Yellow Rattle germinates in the spring, flowers in summer and sets seed around late August; it has circumpolar distribution in Europe, Russia, western Asia, and northern North America - outside of Alaska and Canada, only the Pacific Northwest has a few scarce, remnant populations of this amazing, bumble bee-pollinated meadow plant. By late May, the plant should be beginning to flower.

Harvesting: when the flowers fade, you can shake the brown calyxes (containing the sepals in which the tiny seeds ripen) and listen to hear the distinctive rattle, hence the common name. 

  • Full sun
  • Direct sow recommended between September and early December as it needs cold ground temperatures before it will germinate; this is called vernalisation. Drop small amounts of the seed onto the exposed soil throughout the meadow and press into the soil.
  • OR start seeds indoors - sow seeds in pots or seed trays and leave them outside for the winter. Or store seeds in the fridge for 2 months and sow as above. Transplant seedlings outdoors once they are strong enough to handle.
  • Seed Count: 20


Meadow Making with Yellow Rattle:
  • After cutting and clearing away the dried material, scarify or harrow the area to open up some bare soil for the seed. 
  • Sow from Autumn until the end of November,
  • Seed needs to be exposed to an extended cold period before it will germinate.
  • Sow at a rate of 0.5g - 1g per square meter. Best to sow in small areas rather than broadcast.
  • Seedlings will begin to appear in spring, from late March through to May. Don’t be worried if only a few plants germinate in the first year. They’ll grow and shed their own seed and numbers should increase rapidly.
  • The flowering period of Yellow Rattle is quite short and usually peaks in June. The flowers of yellow rattle are pollinated by large bees (especially bumblebees) and are followed by large, inflated seed pods.
  • Plants are normally about ankle height and produce a mass of small yellow flowers, which carpet meadows in early summer and attract bees.
  • By July most Yellow Rattle plants have died back and quickly turn brown, leaving a distinctive and attractive papery seed head. Harvest when the heads ripen and dry, and the seed inside rattles. 
  • Store in a cool dark place and scatter in late fall or place in fridge 2 to 3 months prior to sowing in pots or directly outdoors