Yellow rattle ‘Springwatch’ 2009
The first yellow rattle seedlings of spring 2009 have germinated in our Norfolk meadows.
As with bumblebee queens, frogspawn and other indicators of spring the first appearance of yellow rattle varies from year to year: the first week of March is in our experience typical for eastern England.
Seeds that were sown last autumn, or shaken from hay in summer, have spent the winter lying on the wet soil surface exposed to the frosts and snow. Rather than being an endurance test, as one might imagine, this is just the stimulus yellow rattle seeds require: after 3 or 4 months of prolonged chilling the seeds will be released from their enforced dormancy and set to germinate. The recent warm spring sunshine provided the last ingredient needed for the new growth cycle to begin.
The emerged seedlings, just a few millimetres across, will now need to grow quickly to take space before surrounding grasses have a chance to close in and deny them light. Careful spring mowing or grazing whilst the yellow rattle plants are small can help. If successful, the young plants will soon attach themselves, via their roots, to nearby grasses and other plants to extract nutrients from them. Yellow rattle will flower in early summer and complete its life cycle when its seeds ‘rattle' out to fall back to the ground in July.
Posted on 06 March 2009,