I’m often asked about Yellow Rattle, Rhinanthus minor. It’s an attractive annual wildflower, good for bees, and which used to be common. Farmers didn’t want it in their meadows, however, as it parasitises grass and reduces its vigour. This makes it invaluable in establishing wildflowers in an existing sward, particularly where the grasses are vigorous and aggressive. I’ve written about it before extolling its virtues and explaining establishment.
I wanted to share some photos today, however. It’s difficult to explain what grass with Rhinanthus minor in it looks like; it doesn’t look sick but is much reduced in vigour. I thought a couple of pictures from one of of our meadow areas would illustrate that. This is an area with relatively fertile soil and well established vigorous grasses. The grass without Rattle has already formed a thick sward up to two feet tall.
The area next to it which I seeded with Rhinanthus last autumn looks quite different. It had the same grasses and the same soil. The grass doesn’t look diseased or unhealthy – it’s just much reduced in volume and in size, to a height of about 6 inches in this case.
We sell Yellow Rattle seed through our sister website BritishWildflowerMeadowSeeds.co.uk.