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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 74. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView 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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5. Festuca rubra L. (red fescue)

Pl. 178 g, h; Map 717

Plants sometimes with well‑developed rhizomes, forming dense to loose clumps, dark bluish green. Flowering stems 20–100 cm long. Leaf sheaths closed nearly to the tip, glabrous or sparsely hairy, the basal sheaths becoming shredded into brown, stringy fibers at maturity, the ligule 0.1–0.4 mm long. Leaf blades 2–50 cm long, 0.7–2.0 mm wide, usually folded or with inrolled margins, without auricles, glabrous. Inflorescences 5–20 cm long, narrow or open, the branches ascending or spreading at maturity, the lowermost branches with 3–7 mostly strongly overlapping spikelets near the tip. Spikelets 6–15 mm long, 2.5–5.0 mm wide, elliptic‑lanceolate before flowering (oblong‑elliptic at maturity), with 2–9 florets. Lower glume 2.5–4.5 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed at the tip. Upper glume 3.5–5.5 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed at the tip, (1)3‑nerved. Lemmas 4.0–7.5 mm long, oblong‑elliptic, tapered to an awn 0.3–3.0 mm long at the tip, not toothed, 3‑ or less commonly 5‑nerved, glabrous or roughened toward the tip. Anthers 2–4 mm long. Fruits 3.0–3.5 mm long, reddish brown. 2n=14, 21, 28, 41, 42, 49, 50, 53, 56, 64, 70. April–June.

Introduced, uncommon, mostly in eastern Missouri (native of the northeastern U.S., Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Europe, and Asia; introduced widely farther south). Bottomland forests and banks of creeks and rivers; also roadsides, railroads, gardens, and disturbed, open areas.

This species is a common component of turf grass seed mixes, especially for lawns in shaded, relatively dry areas. A number of cultivars exist, some of which have been named as varieties. Infraspecific variation is not well understood, however, and application of names based on wild plants in Europe to the native and introduced North American materials requires further study (Aiken and Darbyshire, 1990). Steyermark (1963) included three such variants. The var. arenaria (Osbeck) Fries is a European strain of sandy soils characterized as having large spikelets and hairy lemmas, but very short or no rhizomes (Dore and McNeill, 1980). The var. commutata Gaudin, Chewing’s fescue, is a tall‑stemmed strain forming very dense clumps, which is said to have been selected originally in New Zealand (Dore and McNeill, 1980). The var. rubra, often known as “creeping red fescue,” produces more extensive, creeping rhizomes and was also developed for its turf‑forming properties. For a discussion of fungal associations of this species, see the paragraph at the introduction to the genus Festuca.



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