Cow-Wheat, or Melampy-rui)i,L. a genus of native, annual plants, comprising four species, of which the following are the principal :
1. The arvense, or Purple Cow-wheat, which grows in corn-fields, and is chiefly found in the county of Norfolk. It bears flowers of a yellow dusky purple, which blow in the month of July, and are succeeded by yellowish seeds. These, when ground with corn, impart a dusky, greyish cast, and a bitter flavour to the bread: but do not render it unwholesome. A decoction of the flower-spikes produces a tolerably durable blue colour, and, with the addition of the vegetable alkali, a purplish red, CRonstedt, the Swedish mine-ralogist, obtained a fine blueish co-lour from the stalks alone; but none from the leaves and flowers.
2. The pratense, or Common yellow Cow-wheat, which grows in woods and thickets, especially on clayey soils. Its blossoms are of a deep yellow colour, with white tubes, and appear in July or August. Hogs eagerly eat the seeds, but reject the plant, which is also refused by horses. It is, however, eaten by sheep and goats, and particularly by cows, which are extremely fond of it. Where this plant abounds, the butter is yellow, and uncommonly good.
3. The Sylvaticum, or Wood Cow-wheat, which is very rare, being found only in some woody, shady places, in the hilly parts of Scotland. Its blossoms are entirely yellow, and flourish from June to August; but have not the white tube of the preceding species, with which it is frequently confounded. It is eaten by cows, sheep, and goats : if it be given them in abundance, they will thrive remarkably, and soon grow fat.