Some similarities to : some Cow-wheats such as Common Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense) but those flowers are yellow and not as closely bunched-up.
Slight resemblance to : Alpine Bartsia (Bartsia alpina) but that has purple-coloured flowers.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature :
This is a Hemi-Parasitic plant, meaning that it relies on obtaining some of its' nutrients from the roots of nearby plants, usually grass. The flowers themselves have a beaked appearance that resembles those of Yellow Rattle which is another hemi-parasite but the flowers of Red Bartsia are smaller. Un-branched examples of Red Bartsia are starved of nutrients, when fully enriched it is branched.
The scientific binomial name vernus (which means spring) is a misnomer, it does not flower in the spring, but in summer (aestival) or in autumn, depending upon sub-species, of which there are three (perhaps four).
The existence of the latter sub-species, ssp. litoralis, is disputed, some say it does not exist [along with ssp. pumilus which is not listed above].
Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus ssp. vernus). Flowers in summer. Shortish to 25cm and stooping when young. Inhabits grassy places, arable land and waste ground. Number of branches vary between 1 to 4, sometimes none and held at <51° to the main stem. The lowest flower occurs at the 4th - 9th node. Between none to 1 pair of intercalary leaves. Calyx teeth as long as tube, Style protruding from corolla at the height of pollen-shedding season (anthesis).
Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus ssp. serotinus). Flowers in autumn. Twice as long, up to 50cm and more upright. Habitation the same as ssp. vernus, but also (as with ssp. litoralis) in maritime locations. Number of branches vary between 2 to 8, sometimes none and held at >49° to the main stem. The lowest flower occurs at the 8th - 14th node. Between 2 to 7 pairs of intercalary leaves.
Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus ssp. litoralis). It is a medium rare [RR]. Flowers in autumn. [A disputed sub-species which, along with ssp. pumilus, some say does not exist]. Number of branches vary between 1 to 4, sometimes none and held at <51° to the main stem. The lowest flower occurs at the 4th - 8th node. Between none to 1 pair of intercalary leaves. Calyx teeth shorter than tube. Style shorter than upper lip of corolla at the height of pollen-shedding season (anthesis).
It is not known which sub-species the above photos represent, but is likely that most are of ssp. vernus, with the tallest and most obviously branched being ssp. serotinus.