Wild Harris

Yellow Rattle

 Yellow Rattle 1 LCampbell.jpg(Photo: Laurie Campbell)

Yellow Rattle

One of the largest of the yellow flowers on the machair is the yellow rattle. The name rattle comes from the noise that the seeds make inside the seedpod when they are ripe. If the flower moves in the wind, the seeds rattle and this used to be a sign to crofters that the hay was ready to harvest.

Yellow Rattle is what is known as a parasitic plant – this means that it takes food and water from other plants. An underground part of the plant that looks like a root is actually called a ‘haustoria” and this is what the yellow rattle uses to take minerals and water from the nearby grasses.

Yellow Rattle 2 LCampbell.jpg(Photo: Laurie Campbell)

Yellow Rattle

Another name for yellow rattle is Rhinanthus, which is a Greek word meaning ‘nose-flower”. If you look at this close-up picture upside down, the top part looks like a nose!

by Alison Tyler