Not in My Back Yard

Yellow rattle is like the neighbour who keeps borrowing stuff but never returns it.

Like its relative Indian paintbrush, yellow rattle is semiparasitic. It can make its own food but prefers to use someone else’s. It steals water too. All done through interlocking roots.

One of its favourite “victims” is grass, which is where I found these growing. If you find yellow rattle thriving amidst a patch of sorry-looking grass, you know who’s winning that round.

It’s an odd-looking plant, easily recognized. The yellow flowers remind me of baby chicks poking out of an egg. The hollow “egg shell” holds the loose seeds that rattle around inside — hence its other name, rattlebox.

Yellow rattle lives only one season. When wind rocks its withered stems, loose seeds scatter on the ground and the cycle begins again.

Watch your back, grass.


Yellow rattle/Rattlebox   Rhinanthus borealis

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5 thoughts on “Not in My Back Yard

    1. Good hunting! Ours grow in small scattered patches but I was reading about meadows and hillsides covered with it. That would be quite a sight. :-0

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  1. I’m glad you listed the scientific name at the bottom. We have a “rattle bush” (aka “rattle pod”) but it isn’t at all the same. This really is a beauty. It’s interesting that it behaves like the paintbrush. With a quick glance, it could look like the yellow paintbrush I found this spring — one lone yellow plant in the midst of a meadow.

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