Cow-wheat is a North American native plant. Like other members
of the figwort family, cow-wheat is hemiparasitic: it derives some of its energy from sunlight
and some by attaching its roots to nearby plants’ roots and parasitizing them.
Identification: Plants are 3-16" (7.6-40 cm) tall, usually
branched, hairless or with fine hairs. Cow-wheat’s small size and low-key flowers makes it easily
overlooked, but it is very common on forest floors in many parts of North America.
Leaves are opposite, ¾-2" (2-6 cm) long,
usually smooth edged (entire) and sometimes with teeth near the base. They and long and narrow
to lance-shaped (linear to lanceolate). Flowers are cream-colored, sometimes with
a touch of pink, ¼-⅜" (8-12 mm) long, and tubular,
with a yellow lower lip. They appear from June to August. Fruits are blackish, curved, flattened capsules.
Medical: An infusion made from the plant was once used
by the Ojibwe Indians as a “little medicine for the eyes.”