Melampyrum lineare Desr.
Cow-wheat, Narrowleaf Cowwheat
Cow-wheat is a North American native plant. Like other members of the figwort family, cow-wheat is hemiparasitic: it derives some of its energy from sunlight and some by attaching its roots to nearby plants’ roots and parasitizing them.
Identification: Plants are 3-16" (7.6-40 cm) tall, usually branched, hairless or with fine hairs. Cow-wheat’s small size and low-key flowers makes it easily overlooked, but it is very common on forest floors in many parts of North America. Leaves are opposite, ¾-2" (2-6 cm) long, usually smooth edged (entire) and sometimes with teeth near the base. They and long and narrow to lance-shaped (linear to lanceolate). Flowers are cream-colored, sometimes with a touch of pink, ¼-⅜" (8-12 mm) long, and tubular, with a yellow lower lip. They appear from June to August. Fruits are blackish, curved, flattened capsules.
Medical: An infusion made from the plant was once used by the Ojibwe Indians as a “little medicine for the eyes.”
Melampyrum lineare on BorealForest.org
Melampyrum lineare at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
Melampyrum lineare on Discover Life
Melampyrum lineare on Ontario Wildflowers
Melampyrum lineare on the USDA Plants Database
Melampyrum lineare on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Melampyrum lineare at Minnesota Wildflowers
Melampyrum lineare description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 Dec 2018.