Common Cow-wheat - Melampyrum pratense


Leaves in pairs, linear to oval untoothed and generally unstalked. Flowers yellow to whitish, 10 to 18 mm long, the upper lip often tinged with red or purple in lax, one sided spikes, throat of the corolla usually closed. 

Similar Species

The leaves can look very similar to Greater Stitchwort, but are larger and firmer in texture

Identification difficulty
Recording advice

Photos showing the flowering plant in its habitat (RPR)


Woods, scrub, heaths and upland moorlands on well-drained, nutrient-poor acidic soils.

When to see it

In flower June to October. 

Life History

An annual hemiparasite. The large seeds are distributed by ants.

UK Status

Local and declining in Britain, probably due to habitat loss and the cessation of traditional woodland management.

VC55 Status

Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland where it is now confined to old woodlands in Charnwood Forest, but is decreasing.

In the Flora of Leicestershire (Primavesi and Evans 1988) it was found in 7 of the 617 tetrads.

It is listed on the current VC55 Rare Plant Register (Hall and Woodward 2022) as Locally Rare


Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Common Cow-wheat
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
26/07/2018 (Smith, Peter)
Last record:
07/08/2023 (Bell, Melinda)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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