Information on Common Cow-wheat

Common Name: Common Cow-wheat
Scientific Name: Melampyrum pratense
Irish Name: Lus an tsagairt
Family Group: Orobanchaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Common Cow-wheat is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


An attractive, spreading annual wildflower found growing on heaths, hills and scrub, this wildflower has yellow, occasionally pinky-purple, tubular flowers (15-20mm long) which are arranged in pairs, all facing the same direction.  The corolla is somewhat flattened, has two lips the upper of which is entire, the lower being 3-lobed and the flower is almost closed over.  The pairs of flowers arise from the axils of toothy leaved bracts and they are on flower from May to September.  The leaves of this plant are lanceolate, untoothed and unstalked. This is a native plant belonging to the familyOrobanchaceae.

I first identified this plant in 1976 at Trooperstown, Co Wicklow and photographed it at Ballyryan, Co Clare in 2006. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Cow-wheat, Common
Cow-wheat, Common

This is a semi-parasitic plant which feeds off the nutrients in its neighbours' roots.  It has been said that when cows eat this plant, the butter made from their milk is extremely good.