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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 73. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 6/2/2011)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 6/3/2011)
General/Distribution: A large genus of about 300 species in temperate and subtropical regions of both hemispheres, extending into mountainous regions of the tropics; 20 species occur in Pakistan.
Comment/Acknowledgements: Festuca is a large and very cumbersome genus whose species are often extremely difficult to name. The species concept today is very different from that of last century or even earlier this century and it is becoming apparent that among the smaller, setaceous-leaved fescues the important taxonomic characters are often of a highly cryptic nature. The taxa now recognised seldom fit comfortably into an infraspecific hierarchy and so former subspecies and varieties (and even forms) are today frequently accorded species rank. Use of anatomical characters in the key, while hopelessly unhelpful in the field, is unavoidable since it is at this level that taxonomy appears to operate in Festuca. The following is a very rough guide to the main groups that exist within the genus and to which species can be safely amalgamated into aggregates in cases of extreme difficulty:

Bovinae (tall plants with broad flat leaves)

Drymanthele (leaves without auricles) species 1-2

Schedonorus (leaves with auricles) species 3—5

Leucopoa (glumes hyaline; species sometimes dioecious) species 6-7

Ovinae (small plants with folded-setaceous leaves)

Festuca rubra group (leaves with 7-13 sclerenchyma strands; panicle lax, often nodding) species 8-12

Festuca ovina group (leaves with 3 sclerenchyma strands; panicle narrow. contracted) species 15-19

Species 13 & 14 (like Festuca ovina but with 7 sclerenchyma strands; lemmas awnless or almost so) and species 20 (sclerenchyma usually continuous, not m strands do not easily fit into these groups although the last is morphologically enough like Festuca ovina group to be admitted into the aggregate.

The account which follows is based entirely on that of Alexeev (1980) and this paper should be consulted for further details on the matter of synonymy and the application of certain, names.


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Tufted perennials. Leaf-blades flat or more often folded or convolute, sometimes auricled at the base. Inflorescence an open or contracted panicle. Spike-lets several-to many-flowered, ± laterally compressed; glumes subequal, narrow, the lower 1(-3)-nerved, the upper 3-nerved; lemmas ± lanceolate, rounded on the back, herbaceous or somewhat indurated, (3-)5-nerved, usually with an awn or awn-point from the tip, less often awnless or awned from just below the tip; ovary glabrous or sometimes pubescent above, the styles apical.

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1 Junction of leaf-blade and sheath with lanceolate, sickle-shaped auricles (2)
+ Junction of leaf-blade and sheath without auricles (4)
2 (1) Lemmas awnless or with a short awn up to 3 mm long; upper surface of leaf-blade with prominent ribs (3)
+ Lemmas with an awn 10-18 mm long; upper surface of leaf-blade without ribs Festuca gigantea
3 (2) Auricles ciliate on the edge; lower lemmas often awned Festuca arundinacea
+ Auricles quite glabrous; lower lemmas awnless Festuca pratensis
4 (1) Glumes entirely hyaline (except along the nerves), different in texture from the herbaceous lemmas (5)
+ Glumes herbaceous, similar in texture to the lemmas (6)
5 (4) Leaf-blade flat or loosely rolled, ovary densely hairy at the tip; plants dioecious Festuca olgae
+ Leaf-blades folded; ovary sparsely hairy at the tip; all spikelets bisexual Festuca alatavica
6 (4) Blades of all leaves flat, without ribs above; ligule 3-8 mm long (7)
+ Blades of leaves of vegetative shoots folded-setaceous, ribbed above; ligule usually less than 1 mm long (8)
7 (6) Lemma 5-nerved, 8-10 mm long Festuca modesta
+ Lemma 3-nerved, 5.5-7mm long Festuca asthenica
8 (6) Lemma awnless or rarely with an awn-point or awn up to 0.8 mm long, glabrous (9)
+ Lemma with an awn usually over 1 mm long, rarely awnless but then hairy (10)
9 (8) Spikelets densely crowded in a rarrow panicle; lemmas quite awnless; anthers 0.8-1 mm long Festuca levingei
+ Spikelets loosely disposed in an open panicle; lemmas with a short awn-point or awn up to 0.8 mm long; anthers 1.5-1.75 mm long Festuca afghanica
10 (8) Leaf-blade scabrid on the lower (outer) surface for its whole length (11)
+ Leaf-blade smooth on the lower surface or sometimes scabrid towards the tip (13)
11 (10) Leaf-blades flattened-cylindrical in section (not angular when viewed with a handlens) with 3 sclerenchyma strands, 1 on the keel and 2 marginal (12)
+ Leaf-blade 6-sided in section (visible with a handlens) with 7 approximately equal sclerenchyma strands Festuca kashmiriana
12 (11) Leaf -blade 7-nerved, usually green Festuca alaica
+ Leaf-blade 5-nerved, glaucous-pruinose Festuca valesiaca
13 (10) Leaf-blade with 3 sclerenchyma strands, 1 on the keel and 2 marginal (14)
+ Leaf-blade with 5-9(-11) sclerenchyma strands, these sometimes united into a continuous or interrupted cover (17)
14 (13) Anthers 0.7-1.4 mm long (15)
+ Anthers 1.7-2.5 mm long Festuca alaica
15 (14) Leaf-blade 7-nerved, the outermost pair being equal in size to the innermost pair (16)
+ Leaf-blade 5-nerved (rarely 7-nerved but then the outermost pair of nerves much smaller than the innermost pair) Festuca coelestis
16 (15) Spikelets brown Festuca pamirica
+ Spikelets green, variegated with purple Festuca tibetica
17 (13) Anthers more than 1 mm long (18)
+ Anthers 0.5-0.8(-0.9)mm long Festuca nitidula
18 (17) Leaf-blades flattish or folded, in the latter case being angular and 4-many-sided in section; sclerenchyma in (5-)7-9(-11) separate strands of which that or the keel does not exceed any of the others in width (19)
+ Leaf-blades flattened-cylindricial in section; sclerenchyma in the form of a continuous or interrupted cover, in the latter case forming 3 very broad strands or 5-7 narrower ones of which that on the keel is the most extensive Festuca hartmannii
19 (18) Ovary densely hairy at the tip (20)
+ Ovary glabrous or with just a few hairs at the tip (if rather more densely hairy then distinguished from F. debilis by the presence of sclerenchyma on the upper epidermis) Festuca rubra
20 (19) Leaf-blades of fertile culms folded-setaceous, angular in section; spikelets 14-17 mm long; anthers 2.5-3.5 mm long Festuca simlensis
+ Leaf-blades of fertile culms flat; spikelets 9-11 mm long; anthers 1.7-2.2 mm long Festuca debilis

Lower Taxa
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