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Published In: Spicilegium Florae Lipsicae 57. 1771. (Jul-Oct 1771) (Spic. Fl. Lips.) Name publication detailView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/27/2009)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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1. Festuca arundinacea Schreb. (tall fescue)

Pl. 167 i, j; Map 713

F. elatior L. var. arundinacea (Schreb.) Wimm.

Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.

Plants with short rhizomes, forming tufts or clumps, green to dark green. Flowering stems 40–150(–200) cm long, sometimes dark purple at the base. Leaf sheaths open nearly to the base, the basal sheaths persistent, turning straw‑colored at maturity, but usually not becoming shredded into fibers, the ligule 0.2–0.6 mm long. Leaf blades 5–45 cm long, 3–12 mm wide, flat, glabrous, with a conspicuous pair of auricles at the base (sometimes worn off or folded inward in older materials), these sparsely to densely hairy along the margins. Inflorescences 10–25(–35) cm long, open or narrow, the branches loosely to strongly ascending at maturity, the lowermost branches with clusters of 5–15, mostly strongly overlapping spikelets toward the tip. Spikelets 8–14 mm long, 2.5–5.5 mm wide, elliptic‑lanceolate before flowering (oblong‑elliptic at maturity), with (3)4–6 florets (rarely some of the florets replaced with vegetative bulblets). Lower glume 3–6 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed at the tip. Upper glume 4–8 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed at the tip, 3‑ or 5‑nerved. Lemmas 7–10 mm long, oblong‑elliptic, tapered to a sharp point or an awn 0.5–2.0(–4.0) mm long at the tip, not toothed, 5‑nerved, the nerves sometimes faint, glabrous or slightly roughened only near the tip. Anthers 2.5–4.0 mm long. Fruits 2.5–3.5 mm long, reddish brown. 2n=28, 42, 56, 63, 70, mostly 2n=42. April–July (sometimes through October).

Introduced, scattered to common nearly throughout Missouri, but apparently absent from most of the Mississippi Lowlands Division (native of Europe, Asia, and Africa; widely planted and naturalized throughout most of the temperate and subtropical portions of the world). Upland prairies, glades, banks of creeks, margins of spring branches, ponds, and lakes; also pastures, ditches, levees, roadsides, railroads, and disturbed areas.

Tall fescue is a principal, introduced, cool‑season species for forage and hay in the midwestern and eastern United States. It also is planted commonly for erosion control along roadsides. Low‑growing races are used as drought‑resistant turf grasses for lawns as well. This species has replaced native plant communities on countless acres of Missouri’s landscape and can invade upland prairies and glades, especially if these are overgrazed during the summer months. A number of cultivars exist. For a discussion of problems with F. arundinacea as a forage grass, see the paragraph on fungal associations at the introduction to the genus Festuca.

Festuca arundinacea is very similar morphologically to the closely related F. pratensis. In general it is more robust than that species, with taller stems that are thicker at the base (mostly 3–5 mm vs. 2–3 mm), broader leaves, and bigger spikelets with longer glumes and lemmas (but fewer florets). However, there is considerable overlap between the species for most of these quantitative characters, and misdeterminations are commonly encountered in the herbaria.



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