Yellow-rattle

Latin name: Rhinanthus minor

Family: Scrophulariaceae

The Yellow-rattle gets its name from its bright yellow flowers and the sound of the ripe seed rattling inside the seed-capsules. This annual plant is unusual in that it is semi-parasitic and gains part of its water and nutrient requirements by parasitizing the roots of grasses and other herbs. This characteristic has made it a useful plant in hay meadow restoration projects where it reduces the domination of vigorous grasses and herbs such as perennial-rye grass and white clover enabling other wild flowers to become established.

Sometimes known as 'Hay rattle', this plant is common in species-rich hay meadows in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, such as those in Ribblesdale, Garsdale, Dentdale Upper Wharfedale, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. As an annual plant, its survival depends upon the seeds being shed before the grass is cut for fodder. Therefore the best time to see this species in the Yorkshire Dales is in late June and early July.

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Wharfedale in Yorkshire is a valley favoured by nature and enriched by romance. From 'Wharfedale' by Ella Pontefract & Marie Hartley

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