Rhinanthus minor

Family: Orobanchaceae

Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, England, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Wales, Yugoslavia

Rhinanthus minor (often called Yellow Rattle because the ripe seeds rattle inside their seed pods) is a hardy annual wildflower with handsome yellow flowers that are held hostage by pumped up, yet slightly flattened, calyxes, each one flanked by a toothed green leaf.  Plants grow in meadows, grasslands, and prairies, flowering during the summer moths.  This is a widespread species that can be found in many European countries.

If you’re looking for a glimpse of Rhinanthus minor, you’ll often find this wildflower growing in grassy places.  This is because Rhinanthus minor is hemi-parasitic plant that obtains some of its nutrients and energy from the grasses, vetches and other plants that grow around it.  Rhinanthus minor roots literally grow into the roots of the neighbouring grasses with the intent and purpose of retrieving nutrients to provide itself with extra sustenance.  These extra nutrients help Rhinanthus minor to sustain itself on the nutrient poor meadows where it makes its home.  Plants don’t just rely on grasses and other meadow plants for their nutrition, Rhinanthus minor are also able to manufacture their own energy, using photosynthesis.

This is a hardy annual that sets seed in August and September, in the UK.  Rhinanthus minor seed’s coat must endure a period of winter weather and cold temperatures to induce germination in the spring.  If you want to grow Rhinanthus minor, sow seeds in September, in meadows, grasslands, or in amongst grasses.  The plants will grow in almost any soil, but it’s important to choose a bright, sunny area to grow this annual, as Rhinanthus minor will not grow in the shade; these plants need plenty of sunlight to thrive.

Rhinanthus minor grows up to around 20cm to 40cm (8-16″) tall.

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