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Published In: Mémoires de la Société d'Agriculture, Sciences et Arts d'Angers 1: 209. 1831. (Mém. Soc. Agric. Angers) 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: Native


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3. Festuca paradoxa Desv. (cluster fescue)

Pl. 177 c, d; Map 715

F. shortii Kunth ex A.C. Wood

Plants without rhizomes, forming loose tufts, light green or yellowish green. Flowering stems 50–120 cm long, green at the base. Leaf sheaths open nearly to the base, glabrous or less commonly hairy, persistent or sometimes rupturing between the veins, the ligule 0.2–1.0 mm long. Leaf blades 10–40 cm long, 3–10 mm wide, flat, without auricles, glabrous or more commonly roughened on the upper surface. Inflorescences 5–20 cm long, open, the branches sometimes drooping during spikelet development but loosely ascending at maturity, the lowermost branches with clusters of 8–20, strongly overlapping spikelets toward the tip. Spikelets 4–8 mm long, 4–5 mm wide, obovate before flowering (ovate to obovate at maturity), with 3–6 florets. Lower glume 2.2–4.0 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed at the tip. Upper glume 3–5 mm long, narrowly oblong‑elliptic, sharply pointed at the tip, 3‑nerved. Lemmas 3–5 mm long, oblong‑elliptic to oblong‑ovate, rounded to more commonly bluntly pointed at the tip, occasionally with a minute, sharp point or 2 small teeth, 3‑nerved, the lateral nerves usually very faint, glabrous or roughened. Anthers 1.0–1.6(–2.2) mm long. Fruits 2–3 mm long, reddish brown. May–July.

Scattered nearly throughout Missouri (eastern U.S. west to Wisconsin, Iowa, and Texas). Upland and rarely bottomland prairies, pastures, openings of mesic to dry upland forests, glades, and tops and upper ledges of bluffs.

Aiken and Lefkovitch (1993) completed a detailed morphological study of F. paradoxa and the closely related F. subverticillata. They concluded that some characters used by previous authors to differentiate these species were too variable or were subject to misinterpretation. Characters that do not work consistently to separate the taxa include inflorescence branch length and angle, spikelet width and shape at maturity, number of florets per spikelet, and anther length. The two taxa should be treated as distinct species, however, and are separable by the characters in the key above. They also occupy somewhat different habitats, with F. paradoxa tending to grow in more open, dry, rocky sites than does F. subverticillata.



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