Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Narrowleaf Cow-wheat - Melampyrum lineare   Desrousseaux
Members of Orobanchaceae:
Only member of Melampyrum in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Orobanchaceae
DistributionThroughout the mountains, and somewhat disjunct to Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County in the northwestern Piedmont. As there are a few records from southeastern VA just over the NC state line, it could perhaps be found in the northeastern corner of NC.

This is a very wide-ranging Northern species from coast-to-coast; it occurs from Canada south to DE, PA, and MN, and south in the Appalachians south to northern GA.
AbundanceFrequent to common across the mountains, but very rare and local in the Sauratown Mountains of Stokes County.
HabitatThis species strongly favors dry, upland hardwood forests, often where somewhat xeric or rocky. It can occur around the margins of various granitic domes or other rocks, and also at heath balds. It normally is found in shady woods.
PhenologyBlooms from May to July, and fruits from August to September.
IdentificationThis is a rather small and slender species, quite familiar to mountain biologists but perhaps not so for those who don't spend much time in dry, montane forests. It usually has a few branches, but the plant only reaches about 8-10" tall, and with only a few opposite and very narrow leaves, it easily can be overlooked if not in bloom. Each leaf is narrowly elliptic, lanceolate, or widely linear, about 1.5-2" long but only 1/4" wide at best. From the upper leaf axils grow a single flower each, being tubular but with a 2-lipped corolla, the lower extending outward. It is only about 1/2" long at most, white with yellow on the lower lip. However, the overall effect in bloom is a series of twinned or paired flowers, side by side (one from each leaf axil), and each facing horizontally. Thus, though a small plant and with small flowers, the paired look of the flowers catches attention, especially as it grows in dry and upland woods where relatively few other herbaceous species might be in bloom with it for visual competition.
Taxonomic CommentsMany references list several varieties, across its very wide range. Weakley (2018) says that, to him, "recognition of infraspecific taxa was not warranted".

Other Common Name(s)Cow-wheat, Appalachian Cow-wheat
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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