No its not a toy that fell out of the baby's pram but a grassland hemi-parasite sown as seed last Autumn by the Friends of Rectory Park in their attempt to re-establish the old meadow.
The sowing of the Yellow Rattle was the first stage in re-establishing the meadow as it opens up the sward of grasses, allowing other plants light and nutrients to grow. It also acts upon clover, another vigorous plant that can overwhelm a grassland community so preventing other wild flowers from getting established. In early Autumn the FoRP sowed some 15 different wild flower seeds that include Red & White Campion, Field Scabious, Lady's Bedstraw, Greater & Autumn Hawkbit to name just a few.
The Yellow Rattle plant, or Rhinanthus Minor to give it it's scientific name, stands about 10 to 15 cm in height. This pretty plant parasitizes the root of grasses, stealing nutrients from the grasses causing the grasses to die down and allowing other wild flowers to get established.
The plant attracts bumblebees and forms short (15 to 4cm) spikes of between 6 to 12 bright yellow hooded flowers with purple-pink flush to their base a little blue tip and a black spot, and peridot-green slender leaves, but you will have to get on your hands and knees to see the beautiful details of the flower head Once the Yellow Rattle seed has set the spike turns a rich russet brown and if you walk through it, the seeds rustle in their papery shells, hence the ‘Rattle’.
Article and Photograph's by Peter Bell