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A Day That Started with Yellow Rattle and Ended with Horse Fly Bites and Orchids!

July 15, 2008

Greetings bloggees.

The day is Tuesday 15th, and it is time to collect some Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) seeds for Emily. The place is Kingcombe Meadows, adjacent are some lovely radio pylons broadcasting all the way to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. So what exactly are the V-Team doing here?

The V-Team today was joined by two new members, Joanna and Stuart. Together with Georgie, Lisa, Lucie and Ross, our task was to collect the seed heads from the Yellow Rattle plants, which would then be taken to be sown in another meadow.

As a parasitic plant, Yellow Rattle can take over whole grasslands. It obtains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants. This is a superb way of controlling marauding grasses in a meadow.

By collecting the seeds of the Yellow Rattle they can be sown on to other meadows, or grasslands, to decrease the grass population. This results in greater biodiversity by allowing wild flowers to come to fruition. These wild flowers provide a rich habitat for many butterflies, moths and other invertebrates to thrive.

Yellow Rattle gets its name from the noise the seeds make when you shake the seed pods. We spent the morning collecting the seeds by hand and placing our findings into sacks, there was an ongoing battle with Horse Flies, I think they won…

We were collecting Yellow Rattle by hand from one third of the meadow and the rest of the seeds were collected by a tractor with a hoover attachment.  We purposefully left Yellow Rattle seeds when we were hand picking so that there would be yellow rattle left to repopulate the meadow.


Later in the morning we came upon a Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), just going over. Another was spotted soon after. Meadow Brown butterflies (Maniola jurtina) were in abundance, we saw Large Whites (Pieris brassicae), and Marbled Whites (Melanargia galathea) too. A few day flying moths were seen: the Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) and possibly the Five-spot Burnet (Zygaena trifolii).

At the end of the morning, after plenty of sweat and back ache we watched as the tractor with hoover attachment sucked up the seeds in record speed time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2008 8:43 pm

    What’s all this “pics to follow” malarky…. I want to see them now! The techie stuff’s really interesting but what I want to know is how many coffee breaks did you take, who just lent on their spade, and who ate all the cakes? (come on dish the dirt!) If you have any spare rattle I’d love some for my little patch of (ha! ha!) meadow… it might stop the grass from growing quite so much (then I wouldn’t have to cut the blimin stuff!).

  2. September 4, 2008 8:12 pm

    Thanks for the pictures, they’re great! I could do with some yellow rattle for my meadow garden…

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