Greater Yellow Rattle

East Haven is the only known place in Scotland where the Greater Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus Angustifolius) grows naturally. 

Although quite similar to the much more common yellow rattle the upper teeth of the greater yellow rattle’s yellow petals are twice as long as they are wide and are violet tinged. The flower is sometimes described as a canary getting out of bed.

The Easthaven site of special scientific interest (SSSI) is a strip of land approx. 500 metres long by 50 metres wide. Scottish Natural Heritage are responsible for the SSSI and residents bordering the site have to comply with a number of restrictions under the Nature Conservation Act 2004. Most of them are common sense restrictions such as not cultivating the site or adding manure, fertilisers or lime. 

Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned a report in 2002 which explored the Ecology, Monitoring and Management of the plant in East Haven. A copy can be downloaded at the end of this page. 

A partnership with SNH

East Haven Together is working in Partnership with SNH to help protect and promote the growth of the Greater Yellow Rattle. In recent years the plant has seen somewhat of a decline and there are complex reasons for this. However, looking back over the decades, the plant has thrived during times when the bents have been burned/or cut back allowing the plant space to re-seed and have space to grow. We are therefore undertaking special cutting regimes under the direction of SNH. This involves cutting the grasses in specific areas at specific heights after the plant has died back completely. The grasses are left to lie for a couple of weeks before being collected allowing the seeds to be scattered. 

In  2015 we used domestic strimmers to cut a 5m strip along the entire length of the bents. However, our strimmers almost burned out with the effort and we realise that this is not a suitable tool for the future.  In 2016 we have therefore made an application to the Angus Environmental Trust to purchase a walking scythe which is designed for this level of work. 

Support from CatchmentTay Ltd

CatchmentTay Ltd have donated 4 large hay rakes to assist with our work along the SSSI. Once the plants and grasses are cut they are left to lie for two weeks before being lifted. In 2015 we attempted to lift the cut grasses with domestic rakes but this proved very difficult and time consuming. It is important that the plants and grasses are removed though and the ground raked to give the seeds the best opportunity of spreading and germinating. These huge rakes will make the job easier in the future and enable four volunteers to work across the area. 

Loizou Theo (2002) The Ecology, Monitoring and Management of Rhinanthus Angustifolius (Greater Yellow Rattle) Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned report