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Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest

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Melampyrum lineare
Cow Wheat
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Description

Cow Wheat General - a slender annual; stems few-branched or simple, 10 - 40 cm tall, fine-hairy to hairless, glandular (especially above).

Leaves - opposite, short stalked, 2 - 6 cm long, linear or lance-shaped, mostly smooth-edged but sometimes with bristle-tipped teeth near base.

Flowers - single in upper leaf axils or in leafy spikes at stem tips, white or pinkish; petals tubular, 8 - 12 mm long, 2-lipped with yellow patch in throat, surrounded by green leafy bracts; appearing mid-summer.

Fruit - curved, asymmetrical, flattened capsules; 1 to 4 seeds 2 - 4 mm long, blackish with light coloured tips.; appearing in late-summer.

Habitat

Dry, sandy sites, often in pine woodlands; widespread across boreal forest from Manitoba to B.C.

Notes

The genus name Melampyrum comes from the Greek melas, 'black', and pyros, 'wheat' because when cow-wheat seeds were mixed with grains of wheat and ground into flour, the resulting bread tended to be black.




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