Cowwheat


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Cowwheat

 

(Melampyrum nemorosum), an annual hemi-parasitic plant of the family Scrophulariaceae. The leaves are opposite and lanceolate. The inflorescence is racemose and bicol-ored (hence the Russian name Ivan-da-Mar’ia, “Ivan-and-Maria”), with bright yellow blossoms and blue-violet bracts. The corolla is bilabiate, and there are four stamens. The seeds are large, about 6 mm long, with succulent appendages which are eaten by ants, thus promoting the distribution of the seeds. Cow-wheat is found almost all over Europe, in forest glades, at forest edges, around shrubbery, and in open forests. The milk of cows that eat cowwheat acquires an unpleasant flavor. Poisonous seeds containing the glycoside rhinanthin may cause intoxication of domestic animals. The name Ivan-da-Mar’ia is sometimes applied in Russia to pansies and some other plants.