Scientific Name: Melampyrum cristatum (Scrophulariaceae).
English Name: Crested Cow-wheat (Figwort family).
French Name: Mélampyre à crêtes (='crested cow-wheat').
5 Key Characters:
- flowers arranged in a square column.
- distinctive arching bracts with teeth near the base, tapering to a long point.
- pinky purple bracts with green tips.
- yellow tubular flowers with a purple blush.
- grows about 20-40 cm high.
Lookalikes: Field Cow-wheat M. arvense is the same sort of pinky purple and yellow combination, and grows in similar places, but the flower is much more like a flame than the strange and distinctive somehow reptilian arrangement of Crested Cow-wheat.
Habitat: Woodland and woodland edges, dry pasture, always on calcareous soil. This species is partially parasitic on the surrounding plants.
Flowering Period: May-June-July-August-September.
Status: Very localised but can be abundant.
Photographed by Loire Valley Nature: