Rhinanthus: a tool for restoring diverse grassland?


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Sow seeds of parasitic species (e.g. yellow rattle)

Action Link
Grassland Conservation
  1. Sow seeds of parasitic species (e.g. yellow rattle)

    A review in 2005 of four grassland restoration studies in England, UK (Bullock & Pywell 2005) found that sowing seeds of the parasitic plant yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor led to an increase in plant species richness in all of three studies and a decrease in total plant biomass in three of four studies. Three studies found that after 1–4 years, species richness increased in sites sown with yellow rattle for target plants (by 60%; one study), forb species (by 45%; one study) or plants overall (one additional species; one study) compared to sites not sown with yellow rattle. Three of four studies found that after 1–2 years, total plant biomass decreased by 21–44% in sites sown with yellow rattle compared to unsown sites, whereas one study found no significant difference. Four restoration studies were carried out in former arable fields or species-poor grasslands. In each study, yellow rattle seeds were sown in part of the site at a rate of 12–1,000 seeds/m2, while another part was left unsown. Vegetation was assessed (species richness in three studies, biomass in all four studies) during 1–4 years after sowing. One study has been summarised individually (2).


    (Summarised by: Anna Berthinussen)

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