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UK Nature > Wild Flowers > Yellow Wild Flowers > Rhinanthus minor
Common Name: Yellow Rattle
Scientific Name: Rhinanthus minor
Rhinanthus minor, the Yellow Rattle, Little Yellow Rattle or Cockscomb, is a flowering plant in the genus Rhinanthus in the family Orobanchaceae, native to Europe, northern North America, and Western Asia. Yellow rattle is a grassland annual with yellow, two lipped flowers, the upper lip with two white or purple teeth. Behind the flower the joined sepals inflate to form a green bladder sometimes tinged with red.
Flowering occurs from May through to September followed by a seed capsule which rattles within the now brown and papery bladder. The majority of seed ripens in mid to late July and the rattling of the fruit within the bladder was said to indicate that the meadow was ready to be cut for hay, hence its other common name of hay rattle.
Research at the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has shown that encouraging Yellow Rattle to grow in hay meadows greatly increases biodiversity by restricting grass growth and thereby allowing other species to thrive. The seeds are spread very effectively by traditional hay-making practices.
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