Known as ‘the meadow maker’ or ‘nature’s lawnmower’, yellow rattle is the single most important plant you need to establish when creating a wildflower meadow.
Yellow-rattle has yellow, tube-like flowers protruding from an inflated, green calyx, which appear May to September. It has ser
rated leaves with heavy, dark veins, which sprout opposite each other all the way up the stem. Its stems have black spots.
The flowers of yellow rattle are pollinated by large bees (especially bumblebees) and are followed by large, inflated seed
pods. When these ripen and dry, the seed inside rattles around
Yellow rattle is an annual, completing its life cycle in one year. In early spring the seeds germinate and grow quickly. As their roots develop underground they seek out the roots of plants growing nearby,
especially grasses. Once contact is made the yellow rattle draws water and nutrients from them, suppressing the growth of grasses by as much as 60%. In the resulting space, other flowers have room to grow.
Part of the joy of creating a wildflower meadow is seeing the gradual changes over time. As yellow rattle establishes, the grass will become thinner and plants like oxeye daisy, knapweeds and vetches will start to appear. Eventually, if you’re lucky, even a few orchids might find a home.