Yellow-rattle (Rhinanthus minor) seedling

Yellow-rattle (Rhinanthus minor) seedling

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Seedling of yellow-rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Young yellow-rattle plant that has grown from a seed sown amongst plants of meadow grass (Poa annua). Yellow-rattle is an annual hemiparasitic herb that in the wild occurs in pastures, fens, damp meadows and in grassy mountain sites. It is photosynthetic, but its roots attach themselves to the roots of other herbs, especially grasses and legumes, and withdraw nutrients from the host. In natural environments, this decreases the vigour of its competing hosts. It is widely recommended for use as a component of seed mixtures in flower-rich meadow plantings, and to improve the biodiversity of degraded meadows. Part of this effect may also stem from its annual habit; resulting in the creation of bare patches of soil when it dies in autumn, so encouraging replenishment from the existing seed bank.

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Keywords: annual plant, biodiversity, hemiparasite, meadow, meadow management, rhinanthus minor, root, seed, seed bank, yellow-rattle

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