14.01 FESTUCA L.
Stephen J. Darbyshire
Leon E. Pavlick†

Plants perennial; bisexual; usually densely to loosely cespitose, with or without rhizomes, occasionally stoloniferous. Culms 5–150(275) cm, usually glabrous and smooth throughout, sometimes scabrous or densely pubescent below the inflorescences. Sheaths from open to the base to closed almost to the top, in some species sheaths of previous years persisting and the blades usually deciduous, in other species the senescent sheaths rapidly shredding into fibers and decaying between the veins and the blades not deciduous; collars inconspicuous, usually glabrous; auricles absent; ligules 0.1–2(8) mm, membranous, sometimes longest at the margins, usually truncate, sometimes acute, usually ciliate, sometimes erose; blades flat, conduplicate, involute, or convolute, sometimes glaucous or pruinose, abaxial surfaces usually glabrous or scabrous, sometimes puberulent or pubescent, rarely pilose, adaxial surfaces usually scabrous, sometimes hirsute or puberulent, with or without ribs over the major veins; abaxial sclerenchyma tissue varying from longitudinal strands at the margins and opposite the midvein to adjacent to some or all of the lateral veins, longitudinal strands sometimes laterally confluent with other strands into an interrupted or continuous band, sometimes reaching to the veins and forming pillars; adaxial sclerenchyma tissue sometimes present in strands opposite the veins at the epidermis, the strands sometimes extending to the veins and, in combination with the abaxial sclerenchyma, forming girders of sclerenchyma tissue extending from one epidermis to the other at some or all of the veins. Inflorescences usually open or contracted panicles, sometimes reduced to racemes, usually with 1–2(3) branches at the lower nodes; branches usually erect, spreading to widely spreading at anthesis, sometimes the lower branches reflexed. Spikelets with (1)2–10 mostly bisexual florets, distal florets reduced or abortive; rachillas usually scabrous or pubescent, sometimes smooth and glabrous; disarticulation above the glumes, beneath the florets. Glumes subequal or unequal, usually exceeded by the florets, ovate to lanceolate, acute to acuminate; lower glumes from shorter than to about equal to the adjacent lemmas, 1(3)-veined; upper glumes 3(5)-veined; calluses usually wider than long, usually glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous, occasionally pubescent; lemmas usually chartaceous, sometimes coriaceous, bases more or less rounded dorsally, slightly or distinctly keeled distally, veins 5(7), prominent or obscure, apices acute to attenuate, sometimes minutely bidentate, usually terminally or subterminally awned or mucronate; paleas from shorter than to slightly longer than the lemmas, veins sparsely to densely scabrous-ciliate, intercostal region usually smooth and glabrous at the base, usually scabrous and/or puberulent distally, bidentate; anthers 3; ovaries glabrous or with hispidulous apices, hairs persisting on the mature caryopses. Caryopses obovoid-oblong, adaxially grooved, usually free of the lemmas and paleas, sometimes adhering along the groove, sometimes adhering more broadly; hila linear, from 1/2 as long as to almost as long as the caryopses. x = 7. Name from the Latin festuca, ‘stalk’, ‘stem’, or ‘straw’—a name used by Pliny for a weed.

Festuca is a widespread genus, probably having more than 500 species. The species grow in alpine, temperate, and polar regions of all continents except Antarctica. There are 37 species native to the Flora region, 2 introduced species that have become established, and 5 introduced species that are known only as ornamentals or waifs. One species, F. rubra, is represented by both native and introduced subspecies.

NOTE ADDED July 2010: Work by Catalan and her colleagues indicates that the limits of Festuca, Vulpia, Schedonorus and Lolium all need to be reconsidered. See Catalan et al 2003 and subsequent works (found using the various tools now available on the web).

Many native species provide good forage in western North American grasslands and montane forests. Important cultivated species include Festuca rubra, grown for forage and as a turf grass, and F. trachyphylla, used as a turf grass and for erosion control. Both these species have been widely introduced to many parts of the world. A number of species are cultivated as ornamentals—including F. amethystina L., F. cinerea Vill., F. drymeia Mert. & W.D.J. Koch, F. elegans Boiss., F. gauthieri (Hack.) K. Richt., F. glauca Vill., F. kasmiriana Stapf, F. mairei St.-Yves, F. muelleri Vickery, F. pallens Host, F. pseudoeskia Boiss., F. rupicaprina (Hack.) A. Kern., F. spectabilis Jan, and F. varia Haenke. These species have not become established in the Flora region; only F. amethystina and F. glauca are included in this account.

The distribution of some taxa that are grown for turf, revegetation, and, to a lesser extent, horticulture—such as Festuca rubra subsp. rubra, F. trachyphylla, F. filiformis, and F. valesiaca—is continually expanding because of their wide commercial availability. The occurrence of these in the Flora region is no doubt much more extensive than current herbarium collections indicate.

The taxonomy of the genus is problematic and contentious, and this treatment is far from definitive. Keying the species ultimately relies on characters that are sometimes difficult to detect on herbarium specimens, such as ovary pubescence and leaf blade sclerenchyma patterns. Because of the intraspecific variability in many characters, combinations of overlapping characters must be employed for identification.

The distribution of sclerenchyma tissue within the vegetative shoot leaves is often an important diagnostic character in Festuca. Taxa in a small region can often be identified reliably without resorting to consideration of these patterns but, for the Flora region as a whole, their use is essential. These patterns should be observed in cross sections made from mature, but not senescent, leaves of vegetative shoots, 1/4 to halfway up the blades; they can be made freehand, with a single-edged razor blade. Sections are best viewed at 40× or greater magnification, and with transmitted light (polarized if possible).

There are five main sclerenchyma distribution patterns in Festuca. Almost all species have a strand of sclerenchyma tissue along the margins and opposite the midvein against the abaxial epidermis. Strands may be narrow (about as wide as the adjacent veins or narrower) to broad (wider than the adjacent veins). Additional strands are often present at the abaxial surface opposite the veins; these strands may be confluent, sometimes combining to form a cylinder around the leaf and appearing as a continuous ring or band in the cross sections. Some species have additional strands on the adaxial surface opposite some or all of the veins. Another variant is for the abaxial sclerenchyma strands to extend inwards to some or all of the vascular bundles (veins), forming pillars in the cross sections. If both the abaxial and adaxial strands extend inward to the vascular bundles, they are said to form girders.

Some of the patterns described may co-occur within a leaf. For instance, some veins may be associated with pillars, others with girders; some sclerenchyma strands within a leaf may be confluent, whereas others are not. Although there may be considerable variation in the extent of sclerenchyma development, the general pattern within a species is usually constant. It is this that makes such patterns useful diagnostic characters, particularly for those needing to identify plants in vegetative condition. They have not, however, been examined for all species.

Descriptions of leaf blades are based on the leaves of the basal vegetative shoots, where present. For those without basal tufts of vegetative shoots, the cauline leaves are described. Width measurements are provided for leaves that are usually flat, or almost so, when encountered in the field or herbarium. “Diameter” is given for leaves that are usually folded or conduplicate when encountered; for leaves that are oval in cross section when folded, it is the largest diameter (or width).

Closure of the leaf sheaths should be checked on young leaves, because the sheaths often split with age, leading to underestimations of the extent of their closure. The fraction of the leaf sheath that is closed varies within and between species of Festuca, but the species can be divided into three categories in this regard: those such as F. rubra, in which the leaves are closed for at least 3/4 their length; those such as F. saximontana, in which they are closed from 1/3 to slightly more than 1/2 their length; and those such as F. trachyphylla, in which they are not closed or closed for less than 1/4 their length. The descriptions indicate to which of these categories each species belongs. Lemma awns tend to be longer, and should be measured, on the distal florets within a spikelet.

Under adverse conditions, many species may proliferate vegetatively, where leafy bulbils or shoots form in place of some or all spikelets. Some populations of Festuca are largely (or completely) sterile, reproducing almost entirely through such bulbils, a process termed pseudovivipary. Pseudoviviparous plants may be common or even abundant in certain areas and habitats. Since these stabilized forms are largely reproductively isolated, often of unusual ploidy, and largely morphologically distinct, they are treated as separate species. Although the lower bracts in pseudoviviparous spikelets are usually more or less normal in form, they are sometimes elongated or distorted, as are the upper bracts.

SELECTED REFERENCES Aiken, S.G. and L.L. Consaul. 1995. Leaf cross sections and phytogeography: A potent combination for identifying members of Festuca subgg. Festuca and Leucopoa (Poaceae), occurring in North America. Amer. J. Bot. 82:1287–1299; Aiken, S.G., L.L. Consaul, J.I. Davis and P.S. Manos. 1993. Systematic inferences from variation in isozyme profiles of arctic and alpine cespitose Festuca (Poaceae). Amer. J. Bot. 80:76–82; Aiken, S.G., L.L. Consaul and L.P. Lefkovitch. 1995. Festuca edlundiae (Poaceae), a high arctic, new species compared enzymatically and morphologically with similar Festuca species. Syst. Bot. 20:374–392; Aiken, S.G. and S.J. Darbyshire. 1990. Fescue Grasses of Canada. Agriculture Canada Publ. 1844/E. Canadian Government Publishing Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 113 pp.; Aiken, S.G., M.J. Dallwitz, C.L. McJannet and L.L. Consaul. 1997. Biodiversity among Festuca (Poaceae) in North America: Diagnostic evidence from DELTA and clustering programs, and an INTKEY package for interactive, illustrated identification and information retrieval. Canad. J. Bot. 75:1527–1555; Aiken, S.G., S.J. Darbyshire and L.P. Lefkovitch. 1985. Restricted taxonomic value of leaf sections in Canadian narrow-leaved Festuca (Poaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 63:995–1007; Aiken, S.G. and G. Fedak. 1991. Cytotaxonomic observations on North American Festuca (Poaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 70:1940–1944; Aiken, S.G. and S.E. Gardiner. 1991. SDS-PAGE of seed proteins in Festuca (Poaceae): Taxonomic implications. Canad. J. Bot. 69:1425–1432; Aiken, S.G., S.E. Gardiner, and M.B. Forde. 1992. Taxonomic implications of SDS-PAGE analysis of seed proteins in North American taxa of Festuca subgenus Festuca (Poaceae). Biochem. Syst. & Ecol. 20:615–629; Aiken, S.G. and L.P. Lefkovitch. 1984. The taxonomic value of using epidermal characteristics in the Canadian rough fescue complex (Festuca altaica, F. campestris, F. hallii, “F. scabrella”). Canad. J. Bot. 62:1864–1870; Aiken, S.G. and L.P. Lefkovitch. 1993. On the separation of two species within Festuca subg. Obtusae (Poaceae). Taxon 42:323–337; Alexeev, E.B. 1977. To the systematics of Asian fescues (Festuca): I. Subgenera Drymanthele, Subulatae, Schedonorus, Leucopoa. Byull. Moskovsk. Obshch. Isp. Prir., Otd. Biol., n.s., 82(3):95–102. [In Russian]; Alexeev, E.B. 1980. Festuca L.: Subgenera et sectiones novae ex America boreali et Mexico. Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 17:42–53. [In Russian]; Alexeev, E.B. 1982. New and little known fescues (Festuca L.) of North America. Byull. Moskovsk. Obshch. Isp. Prir., Otd. Biol., n.s., 87(2):109–118. [In Russian]; Alexeev, E.B. 1985. Festuca L. (Poaceae) in Alaska et Canada. Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 22:5–35. [In Russian]; Auquier, P. 1971. Festuca rubra subsp. pruinosa (Hack.) Piper: Morphologie, écologie, taxonomie. Lejeunia, n.s., 56:1–16; Barker, C.M. and C.A. Stace. 1982. Hybridization in the genera Vulpia and Festuca: The production of artificial F1 plants. Nordic J. Bot. 2:435–444; Beal, W.J. 1896. Grasses of North America, vol. 2. Henry Holt & Company, New York, New York, U.S.A. 706 pp.; Catalán, P., P. Torrecilla, J.A. López Rodrı́guez and Richard G Olmstead. 2003. Phylogeny of the festucoid grasses of subtribe Loliinae and allies (Poeae, Pooideae) inferred from ITS and trn L–F sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31:517-541 [ doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.08.02]; Consaul, L.L. and S.G. Aiken. 1993. Limited taxonomic value of palea intercostal characteristics in North American Festuca (Poaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 71:1651–1659; Darbyshire, S.J. and S.G. Warwick. 1992. Phylogeny of North American Festuca (Poaceae) and related genera using chloroplast DNA restriction site variation. Canad. J. Bot. 70:2415–2429; Dore, W.G. and J. McNeill. 1980. Grasses of Ontario. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada Monograph No. 26. Canadian Government Publishing Centre, Hull, Québec, Canada. 568 pp.; Dubé, M. 1983. Addition de Festuca gigantea (L.) Vill. (Poaceae) à la flore du Canada. Naturaliste Canad. 110:213–215; Dubé, M. and P. Morisset. 1987. Morphological and leaf anatomical variation in Festuca rubra sensu lato (Poaceae) from eastern Quebec. Canad. J. Bot. 65:1065–1077; Dubé, M. and P. Morisset. 1995. La variation des caractères épidermiques foliaires chez le Festuca rubra sensu lato (Poaceae) dans l’est du Canada. Canad. J. Bot. 74:1425–1438; Dubé, M. and P. Morisset. 1996. La plasticité phénotipique des caractères anatomiques foliaires chez le Festuca rubra L. (Poaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 74:1708–1718; Dubé, M., P. Morisset and J. Murdock. 1985. Races chromosomiques chez le Festuca rubra sensu lato (Poaceae) dans l’est du Québec. Canad. J. Bot. 63:227–231; Fernald, M.L. 1933. Recent discoveries in the Newfoundland flora. Rhodora 35:120–140; Frederiksen, S. 1978. Festuca brevissima Jurtz. in Alaska. Bot. Not. 131:409–410; Frederiksen, S. 1979. Festuca minutiflora Rydb., a neglected species. Bot. Not. 132:315–318; Frederiksen, S. 1981. Festuca vivipara (Poaceae) in the North Atlantic area. Nordic J. Bot. 1:277–292; Frederiksen, S. 1982. Festuca brachyphylla, F. saximontana and related species in North America. Nordic J. Bot. 2:525–536; Frederiksen, S. 1983. Festuca auriculata in North America. Nordic J. Bot. 3:629–632; Harms, V.L. 1985. A reconsideration of the nomenclature and taxonomy of the Festuca altaica complex (Poaceae) in North America. Madroño 32:1–10; Kerguélen, M. and F. Plonka. 1989. Les Festuca de la flore de France (Corse comprise). Bull. Soc. Bot. Centre-Ouest, Numéro Spécial 10:1–368; Kerguélen, M., F. Plonka and É. Chas. 1993. Nouvelle contribution aux Festuca (Poaceae) de France. Lejeunia, n.s., 142:1–42; Markgraf-Dannenberg, I. 1980. Festuca L. Pp. 125–153 in T.G. Tutin, V.H. Heywood, N.A. Burges, D.M. Moore, D.H. Valentine, S.M. Walters and D.A. Webb (eds.). Flora Europaea, vol. 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. 439 pp.; Pavlick, L.E. 1983a. Festuca viridula Vasey (Poaceae): Re-establishment of its original lectotype. Taxon 32:117–120; Pavlick, L.E. 1983b. Notes on the taxonomy and nomenclature of Festuca occidentalis and F. idahoensis. Canad. J. Bot. 61:337–344; Pavlick, L.E. 1983c. The taxonomy and distribution of Festuca idahoensis in British Columbia and northwestern Washington. Canad. J. Bot. 61:345–353; Pavlick, L.E. 1984. Studies of the Festuca ovina complex in the Canadian Cordillera. Canad. J. Bot. 62:2448–2462; Pavlick, L.E. 1985. A new taxonomic survey of the Festuca rubra complex in northwestern North America, with emphasis on British Columbia. Phytologia 57:1–17; Pavlick, L.E. and J. Looman. 1984. Taxonomy and nomenclature of rough fescues, Festuca altaica, F. campestris (F. scabrella var. major), and F. hallii, in Canada and the adjacent United States. Canad. J. Bot. 62:1739–1749; Piper, C.V. 1906. North American species of Festuca. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 101:1–48, vi–ix; Ramesar-Fortner, N.S., S.G. Aiken, and N.G. Dengler. 1995. Phenotypic plasticity in leaves of four species of arctic Festuca (Poaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 73:1810–1823; Saint-Yves, A. 1925. Contribution à l’étude des Festuca (subgen. Eu-festuca) de l’Amérique du Nord et du Mexique. Candollea 2:229–316; Scholander, P.F. 1934. Vascular plants from northern Svalbard with remarks on the vegetation in North-East Land. Skr. Svalbard Nordishavet 62:1–155; Torrecilla, P. and P. Catalan 2002. Phylogeny of Broad-leaved and Fine-leaved Festuca Lineages (Poaceae) based on Nuclear ITS Sequences. Systematic Botany 27(2):241-251. 2002 [ doi: 10.1043/0363-6445-27.2.241]; Yatskievych, G. 1999. Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri, vol. 1, rev. ed. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, Missouri, U.S.A. 991 pp.

For an interactive dichotomous key, click here; the interactive, multientry key has not yet been posted.

1. Blades usually flat, sometimes loosely conduplicate or convolute, 1.8–10 mm wide; sheaths closed to about 1/2 their length, never about 3/4 their length; sclerenchyma girders or pillars associated with at least some of the major veins; ovary apices usually pubescent, rarely glabrous; plants rarely pseudoviviparous ... 2
1. Blades usually conduplicate or folded and less than 2.5 mm in diameter, sometimes convolute or flat, sometimes the leaves of the vegetative shoots conduplicate and the cauline leaves more or less flat, up to 6(7) mm wide when flat; sheath closure varied, from completely open to closed for about 3/4 their length, if the blades 2+ mm wide then the sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length; sclerenchyma girders usually absent, present if the blades 3+ mm wide, pillars sometimes present; ovary apices pubescent or glabrous; plants sometimes pseudoviviparous ... 18
2. Primary and secondary inflorescence branches stiffly and strongly divaricate at maturity, angles densely scabrous or ciliate; spikelets with 2(3) florets ... F. dasyclada (in part)
2. Primary inflorescence branches lax or stiff, erect to ascending or spreading at maturity, sometimes lax, secondary branches not stiffly divaricate, angles smooth or scabrous; spikelets with 2–6(10) florets ... 3
3. Lemma awns (1.3)1.5–20 mm long, occasionally absent ... 4
3. Lemmas unawned, mucronate, or with awns shorter than 2 mm ... 8
4. Lemma awns usually less than 1/3 the lemma length, rarely absent; anthers (3)4–8.5 mm long; plants densely cespitose ... F. californica (in part)
4. Lemma awns usually more than 1/3 the lemma length; anthers 1.5–5.7 mm long; plants usually loosely cespitose, rarely densely cespitose ... 5
5. Lemma calluses longer than wide, pubescent, at least basally; awns flexuous or kinked ... F. subuliflora
5. Lemma calluses wider than long, glabrous, sometimes slightly scabrous; awns usually straight or slightly curved, bent or kinked ... 6
6. Anthers 1.5–3 mm long; lemmas entire, glabrous, sometimes sparsely scabrous; awns terminal, (2.5)5–15(20) mm long; leaf blades 3–10 mm wide ... F. subulata
6. Anthers (3)3.4–5.7 mm long; lemmas bidentate or entire, puberulent or scabrous; awns subterminal or terminal, 1–5(8) mm long, occasionally absent; leaf blades usually less than 6 mm wide ... 7
7. Upper glumes 3–4.6 mm long; lemma awns (1.5)2–5(8) mm long; blades 1.8–6 mm wide, blades of the vegetative shoots narrower than the cauline blades, usually flat or convolute or loosely conduplicate; plants of forests, usually below 500 m ... F. elmeri
7. Upper glumes (4)5.5–7(8) mm long; lemma awns 1–3(3.5) mm long; blades 1.5–3 mm wide, the vegetative shoot and cauline blades similar in width, usually loosely conduplicate, or sometimes flat; plants of subalpine and low alpine habitats ... F. washingtonica (in part)
8. Ligules 2–9 mm long; lemmas unawned, sometimes mucronate, mucros to 0.2 mm long ... 9
8. Ligules 0.1–1.5(2) mm long; lemmas awned, mucronate, or unawned ... 10
9. Rhizomes present; blades with (5)7–9 veins; lemmas 4–6.5 mm long, unawned; anthers 1.5–2.6 mm long ... F. ligulata (in part)
9. Rhizomes absent; blades with 9–15 veins; lemmas 6–10 mm long, unawned, sometimes with a mucro to 0.2 mm long; anthers 3–4.5 mm long ... F. thurberi (in part)
10. Lemmas 3–5(5.2) mm long, unawned; anthers (0.7)1–2(2.5) mm long ... 11
10. Lemmas (4.8)5–12 mm long, unawned or with awns to 2 mm long; anthers 1.6–6 mm long ... 12
11. Inflorescence branches usually reflexed at maturity; spikelets not or only slightly imbricate, elliptic to ovate; upper glumes 3–4(4.7) mm ... F. subverticillata
11. Inflorescence branches ascending to spreading at maturity; spikelets closely imbricate, elliptic to obovate; upper glumes (3.5)4–5(5.5) mm ... F. paradoxa
12. Senescent sheaths not persistent, rapidly shredding into fibers; plants loosely cespitose; cauline nodes usually exposed ... 13
12. Senescent sheaths persistent or only slowly shredding into fibers; plants densely cespitose; cauline nodes usually not exposed ... 14
13. Lower glumes 4–7 mm long; lemmas smooth and glabrous, apices sometimes sparsely scabrous, unawned, sometimes mucronate ... F. versuta
13. Lower glumes 1.5–4.5 mm long; lemmas scabrous or puberulent, unawned or awned, awns to 2 mm long ... F. sororia
14. Panicle branches more or less erect, stiff; abaxial sclerenchyma forming continuous or interrupted bands; lower glumes from shorter than to about equal to the adjacent lemmas ... 15
14. Panicle branches lax, loosely erect, spreading, recurved, or reflexed; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands about the same width as the adjacent veins, not forming a continuous or interrupted band; lower glumes distinctly shorter than the adjacent lemmas ... 16
15. Spikelets with 2–3(4) florets; glumes about equaling or slightly exceeding the upper florets; lemmas 5.5–8(9) mm long ... F. hallii (in part)
15. Spikelets with (3)4–5(7) florets; glumes exceeded by the upper florets; lemmas (6.2)7–8.5(10) mm long ... F. campestris (in part)
16. Senescent sheaths persistent, not shredding into fibers; blades deciduous; spikelets lustrous; ovary apices usually sparsely pubescent, rarely glabrous; plants densely cespitose ... F. altaica (in part)
16. Senescent sheaths persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; blades not deciduous; spikelets not lustrous; ovary apices usually densely pubescent, sometimes sparsely pubescent; plants loosely to densely cespitose ... 17
17. Blades of the lower cauline leaves much shorter and stiffer than those of the upper cauline leaves; lemmas smooth or slightly scabrous, unawned or the awns to 1.5(2) mm long ... F. viridula (in part)
17. Blades of the lower cauline leaves similar in length and stiffness to those of the upper cauline leaves; lemmas scabrous or puberulent distally, the awns usually longer than 1 mm, rarely
absent ... F. washingtonica (in part)
18. Collars usually pubescent, at least at the margins, sometimes glabrous; lemmas (7)7.5–11 mm long, scabrous or pubescent; spikelets not pseudoviviparous; ovary apices densely pubescent ... F. californica (in part)
18. Collars glabrous; lemmas 2–10(11) mm long, smooth or scabrous, glabrous or with hairs; spikelets sometimes pseudoviviparous; ovary apices glabrous or pubescent or ovaries not developed ... 19
19. Ligules 2–9 mm long ... 20
19. Ligules to 1.5(2) mm long ... 21
20. Rhizomes present; blades with (5)7–9 veins; lemmas 4–6.5 mm long, unawned; anthers 1.5–2.6 mm long ... F. ligulata (in part)
20. Rhizomes absent; blades with 9–15 veins; lemmas 6–10 mm long, unawned, sometimes with a mucro to 0.2 mm long; anthers 3–4.5 mm long ... F. thurberi (in part)
21. Most or all spikelets pseudoviviparous; anthers and ovaries usually absent or abortive ... 22
21. No spikelets pseudovivaparous; anthers and ovaries well developed ... 25
22. Rhizomes present; sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length or more, senescent sheaths rapidly shredding into fibers ... 23
22. Rhizomes absent; sheaths closed for less than 3/4 their length, senescent sheaths sometimes persistent, sometimes shredding into fibers ... 24
23. Cauline blades 0.3–1 mm wide, conduplicate or folded; inflorescences sometimes racemose or subracemose, with 1–3 spikelets on the lower branches; plants of boreal and alpine eastern North America ... F. prolifera
23. Cauline blades 1.4–2.5 mm wide, flat; inflorescences paniculate, with 2–5 spikelets on the lower branches; plants known only from the Queen Charlotte Islands ... F. pseudovivipara
24. Abaxial sclerenchyma in broad, sometimes confluent strands that together cover 1/2 or more of the abaxial surface; glumes densely pubescent throughout; inflorescences 1.5–10 cm long ... F. frederikseniae
24. Abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands that together cover less than 1/2 the abaxial surface; glumes glabrous or pubescent; inflorescences 1–4.8 cm long ... F. viviparoidea
25. Glumes about equaling or slightly exceeding the upper florets; lemma awns absent or 0.5–1.3 mm long; anthers 4–6 mm long ... F. hallii (in part)
25. Glumes distinctly exceeded by the upper florets; lemma awns various; anthers 0.3–6 mm long ... 26
26. Rhizomes usually present; sheaths of the vegetative shoots closed for about 3/4 their length, glabrous or pubescent, hairs retrorse or antrorse, senescent sheaths rapidly shredding into fibers ... 27
26. Rhizomes absent; sheaths of the vegetative shoots usually closed for less than 2/3 their length, sometimes closed for about 3/4 their length, usually glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous or puberulent, hairs rarely retrorse, senescent sheaths usually persistent for several years, sometimes slowly shredding into fibers ... 28
27. Anthers 1.8–4.5 mm long; ovary apices glabrous ... F. rubra
27. Anthers 0.6–1.4 mm long; ovary apices densely pubescent ... F. earlei (in part)
28. Primary and secondary inflorescence branches stiffly and strongly divaricate at maturity; spikelets with 2(3) florets ... F. dasyclada (in part)
28. Primary inflorescence branches stiffly erect or laxly spreading at maturity, secondary branches not divaricate; spikelets with (1)2–10 florets ... 29
29. Culms densely scabrous or densely pubescent below the inflorescences; ligules 0.5–1.5(2) mm long; anthers (2)3–4(4.2) mm long ... F. arizonica
29. Culms usually smooth and glabrous below the inflorescences, sometimes scabrous or sparsely pubescent, if scabrous or pubescent then the ligules to 0.6 mm long; ligules 0.1–0.8(1) mm long; anthers 0.3–4.5(5) mm long ... 30
30. Lemmas unawned, mucronate, or with awns to 3.5 mm long, if awned then the leaf blades with adaxial sclerenchyma strands present ... 31
30. Lemmas usually awned, occasionally unawned, awns 0.3–12 mm long; leaf blades without adaxial sclerenchyma strands ... 36
31. Blades 0.2–1.2(1.5) mm in diameter; lemmas usually unawned, sometimes mucronate, mucros to 0.4 mm long; ovary apices glabrous or sparsely pubescent; adaxial sclerenchyma absent, pillars and girders not formed; plants introduced, usually of disturbed habitats ... 32
31. Blades 0.3–3 mm in diameter; lemmas unawned or with awns to 3.5 mm long; ovary apices pubescent, sometimes sparsely so; usually at least some veins associated with adaxial sclerenchyma and pillars or girders; plants native, of western alpine, subalpine, and montane habitats ... 33
32. Blades with (5)7–9 veins and 5–9 indistinct or distinct ribs; sclerenchyma in (5)7–9 sometimes partly confluent abaxial strands; inflorescences (3)8–18(25) cm long; spikelets (5)6–8.5(10) mm long; lemmas (3.5)4–5.6(6.6) mm long; anthers (2)3–4 mm long ... F. amethystina
32. Blades with 5(7) veins and 1 distinct rib; sclerenchyma in a continuous or almost continuous abaxial band; inflorescences 1–6(14) cm long; spikelets 3–6(6.5) mm long; lemmas
2.3–4(4.4) mm long; anthers (1)1.5–2.2 mm long ... F. filiformis
33. Panicle branches erect to stiffly spreading; abaxial sclerenchyma forming continuous or interrupted bands; lower glumes from shorter than to about equal to the adjacent lemmas ... F. campestris (in part)
33. Panicle branches lax, loosely erect, spreading, recurved, or reflexed; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands about the same width as the adjacent veins, not forming a continuous or interrupted band; lower glumes distinctly shorter than the adjacent lemmas ... 34
34. Senescent sheaths persistent, not shredding into fibers; blades deciduous; spikelets lustrous; ovary apices usually sparsely pubescent, rarely glabrous; plants densely cespitose; plants of alpine or arctic habitats from central British Columbia northward ... F. altaica (in part)
34. Senescent sheaths persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; blades not deciduous; spikelets not lustrous; ovary apices usually densely pubescent, sometimes sparsely pubescent; plants loosely to densely cespitose; plants of alpine and subalpine habitats from southern British Columbia southward ... 35
35. Blades of the lower cauline leaves shorter and stiffer than those of the upper cauline leaves; lemmas glabrous, smooth or slightly scabrous ... F. viridula (in part)
35. Blades of the lower cauline leaves similar in length and stiffness to those of the upper cauline leaves; lemmas scabrous or puberulent distally ... F. washingtonica (in part)
36. Anthers (1.8)2–4.5 mm long; plants mostly not of arctic, subarctic, or alpine habitats (except F. auriculata and F. lenensis) ... Subkey I
36. Anthers 0.3–1.8(2) mm long; plants mostly of arctic, subarctic, or alpine habitats (except F. occidentalis, F. ovina, and F. saximontana) ... Subkey II

 

Festuca Subkey I

1. Ovary apices pubescent ... 2
1. Ovary apices glabrous, or with up to 5 hairs in F. calligera ... 4
2. Sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length or more; vegetative shoot leaf blades narrow and conduplicate, the cauline blades broader and flat; anthers 2.5–4.5 mm long ... F. heterophylla
2. Sheaths closed for no more than 1/2 their length; vegetative shoot and cauline leaf blades similar, conduplicate; anthers 1–3.5 mm long ... 3
3. Lower inflorescence branches usually reflexed at maturity; lemma awns 3–12 mm long; ovary apices densely pubescent ... F. occidentalis
3. Lower inflorescence branches erect at maturity; lemma awns 1–2.5 mm long; ovary apices sparsely pubescent ... F. calligera (in part)
4. Abaxial sclerenchyma forming continuous or interrupted bands; lemmas (2.6)3–6(6.2) mm long; blades with 1–3(5) indistinct ribs; anthers 1.4–3 mm long; species used as ornamentals or for turf or soil stabilization, rarely spreading from cultivation ... 5
4. Abaxial sclerenchyma usually in 3–7 discrete or somewhat confluent strands, if in a continuous band, the lemmas 3.8–7(8.2) mm long; blades with 1–9 distinct ribs; anthers 0.4–4.5 mm long; most species native, a few introduced for turf ... 6
5.Plants usually not glaucous or pruinose; sheaths glabrous; plants used for turf ... F. ovina (in part)
5.Plants usually glaucous or pruinose; sheaths pubescent or glabrous; plants grown as ornamentals ... F. glauca
6. Abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 strands or in interrupted to continuous bands; blades with (1)3–9 well-defined ribs ... 7
6. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands usually restricted to the margins and midvein, rarely with additional strands in between; blades with 1–5 well-defined ribs ... 9
7. Lemmas 3.8–5(6.5) mm long, usually scabrous or pubescent distally, especially on the margins, rarely entirely pubescent; lemma awns usually less than 1/2 the length of the lemma bodies ... F. trachyphylla
7. Lemmas 5–10 mm long, scabrous distally; lemma awns usually more than 1/2 the length of the lemma bodies ... 8
8. Blades with (1)3–5 ribs; adaxial surfaces of the blades pubescent or scabrous; inflorescence branches usually somewhat spreading at maturity ... F. idahoensis
8. Blades with 5–9 ribs; adaxial surfaces of the blades glabrous or pubescent, sometimes scabrous; inflorescence branches erect to slightly spreading at maturity ... F. roemeri
9. Sheaths closed distinctly less than 1/2 their length; culms 15–65 cm tall; inflorescences 5–15 cm long; plants native to the southwestern United States ... F. calligera (in part)
9. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length; culms 8–50(60) cm tall; inflorescences 1.5–10 cm long; plants introduced or native to the extreme northwest of the Flora region ... 10
10. Inflorescences (3)5–10 cm long, panicles; abaxial blade surfaces glabrous or pubescent, not pilose; lower glumes 2–3 mm long; anthers 2.2–2.6 mm long; plants introduced ... F. valesiaca
10. Inflorescences 1.5–5(5.5) cm long, panicles or racemes; abaxial blade surfaces glabrous, pubescent, or pilose, varying within individual plants; lower glumes 2.5–3.4 mm long; anthers (2)2.4–3.5 mm long; plants native to the extreme northwest of the Flora region ... 11
11. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands distinctly narrower than the veins; spikelets 5–6.5(8) mm long ... F. auriculata
11. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands about the same width as or wider than the veins; spikelets (5)7–9(11) mm long ... F. lenensis (in part)

 

Festuca Subkey II

1. Ovary apices pubescent, sometimes with only a few hairs ... 2
1. Ovary apices glabrous ... 5
2. Ovary apices densely and conspicuously pubescent ... 3
2. Ovary apices sparsely and inconspicuously pubescent ... 4
3. Lemma awns 0.3–1.5 mm long; lemmas 3–4.5 mm long ... F. earlei (in part)
3. Lemma awns 3–12 mm long; lemmas (4)4.5–6.5(8) mm long ... F. occidentalis
4. Culms densely pubescent or shortly pilose below the inflorescence; lemmas 3.5–6 mm long; anthers 0.3–0.7(1.1) mm long ... F. baffinensis (in part)
4. Culms glabrous below the inflorescence; lemmas (2)2.2–3.5(4) mm long; anthers (0.4)0.6–1.2 mm long ... F. minutiflora (in part)
5. Abaxial sclerenchyma in a continuous band; anthers longer than 1.4 mm; plants persisting from historical use for turf and soil stabilization ... F. ovina (in part)
5. Abaxial sclerenchyma in 3+ discrete or confluent strands, rarely in a continuous band; anthers various; plants native in the Flora region ... 6
6. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands at least twice as wide as high, varying to more or less confluent, rarely forming a continuous band; plants of various habitats ... 7
6. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands usually less than twice as wide as high, not confluent, never forming a continuous band; plants restricted to arctic or alpine habitats ... 8
7. Anthers (0.8)1.2–1.7(2) mm long; inflorescences 2–10(13) cm long; lemmas (3)3.4–4(5.6) mm long; spikelets (3)4.5–8.8(10) mm long; plants widespread in continental North America ... F. saximontana
7. Anthers 0.8–1.3 mm long; inflorescences 1.5–5 cm long; lemmas (2.5)3–3.5(4) mm long; spikelets 4–5.6(6) mm long; plants known only from Greenland ... F. groenlandica
8. Blades usually with 3 abaxial sclerenchyma strands, 2 in the margins and 1 opposite the midvein, occasionally with 2 additional abaxial strands opposite the lateral veins ... 9
8. Blades with 3–7(9) abaxial sclerenchyma strands ... 10
9. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands 3(5), narrower than the veins; spikelets 5–6.5(8) mm long ... F. auriculata (in part)
9. Abaxial sclerenchyma strands 3, about the same width as or wider than the veins; spikelets (5)7–9(11) mm long ... F. lenensis (in part)
10. Blades (0.2)0.3–0.4(0.6) mm in diameter; spikelets 2.5–5 mm long, with (1)2–3(5) florets; lemmas (2)2.2–3.5(4) mm long; lemma awns 0.5–1.5(1.7) mm long; plants of alpine habitats ... F. minutiflora (in part)
10. Blades (0.3)0.4–1.2 mm in diameter; spikelets (3)3.5–8.5 mm long, with 2–6 florets; lemmas 2.5–7 mm long; lemma awns (0.2)0.5–3.5 mm long; plants of arctic or alpine habitats ... 11
11. Culms densely pubescent or pilose below the inflorescences; anthers 0.3–0.7(1.1) mm long ... F. baffinensis (in part)
11. Culms usually glabrous and smooth below the inflorescences, occasionally slightly scabrous or sparsely puberulent; anthers (0.3)0.4–1.3 mm long ... 12
12. Inflorescences usually panicles; lower branches with 2+ spikelets; flag leaf sheaths not inflated; flag leaf blades (0.3)1–3 cm long ... F. brachyphylla
12. Inflorescences often racemes; lower branches with 1–2(3+) spikelets; flag leaf sheaths usually slightly to distinctly inflated; flag leaf blades 0.2–5(8) cm long ... 13
13. Culms erect, more than twice as tall as the basal tuft of leaves; glumes ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate; lemmas (3)4–5.5(7) mm long; plants of Alaska to the western Northwest Territories ... F. brevissima
13. Culms erect to prostrate, to twice as tall as the basal tuft of leaves; glumes ovate to ovate-lanceolate; lemmas 2.9–5.2 mm long; plants of Alaska to the eastern arctic ... 14
14. Culms usually erect, sometimes semi-prostrate; flag leaf blades 0.5–5(8) mm long; blades often curved or somewhat falcate; spikelets (3)4–5.5(7) mm long; upper glumes 2.2–3.2 mm long; lemma apices usually minutely bidentate; awns usually slightly subterminal ... F. hyperborea
14. Culms usually geniculate to prostrate, becoming erect at anthesis; flag leaf blades (0.3)0.5–2 cm long; most blades straight; spikelets 4.5–8.5 mm long; upper glumes 2.9–4.3 mm long; lemma apices entire; awns usually terminal, sometimes slightly subterminal ... F. edlundiae

 

Festuca subg. Montanae (Hack.) Nyman

Plants loosely cespitose, without rhizomes. Innovations extravaginal, with or without basal cataphylls. Blades flat or convolute; ribs shallow, indistinct; sclerenchyma girders present at the major veins. Calluses wider than long; lemmas chartaceous, lanceolate to attenuate, entire, unawned; ovary apices densely pubescent.

Festuca subg. Montanae contains approximately 20–25 species. It has been divided into seven sections that are widely distributed on all continents except Africa and Antarctica. One monospecific section occurs in North America.

 

Festuca sect. Texanae E.B. Alexeev

Plants loosely cespitose, without rhizomes. Innovations extravaginal, without basal cataphylls. Blades lax, flat or convolute; ribs shallow, indistinct; sclerenchyma girders present at the major veins. Calluses wider than long, scabrous at the margins; lemmas chartaceous, unawned; ovary apices densely pubescent.

Three species have been placed in this section; one occurs in the Flora region, and the other two are Central American.

 

1. Festuca versuta Beal
Texas Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 50–100 cm, glabrous, somewhat glau-cous; nodes usually exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, shredding into fibers; ligules 0.5–1 mm; blades 2–10 mm wide, flat, loosely conduplicate, or involute, abaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous, glabrous or puberulent, adaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous, veins 13–35, ribs obscure; sclerenchyma in abaxial and adaxial strands; girders formed at most major veins. Inflorescences (8)10–30(40) cm, open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches lax, spreading, spikelets borne towards the ends of branches. Spikelets 6–11 mm, sometimes glaucous, with (2)3–5 florets. Glumes lanceolate, smooth or scabrous, acuminate; lower glumes 4–7 mm; upper glumes 5–7.5 mm; lemmas 5–8 mm, chartaceous, lanceolate, glabrous, usually smooth, sometimes scabrous towards the apices, apices acute to acuminate, unawned, sometimes mucronate; paleas as long as or slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 2–3 mm; ovary apices densely pubescent. 2n = unknown.

Festuca versuta grows in moist, shaded sites on rocky slopes in open woods, from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Texas. It is an uncommon species.

 

Festuca subg. Obtusae E.B. Alexeev

Plants loosely cespitose, without rhizomes. Innovations extravaginal. Blades lax, flat or convolute; ribs shallow and indistinct; sclerenchyma girders present at the major veins. Calluses wider than long, scabrous at the margins; lemmas stiffly chartaceous, entire, unawned; ovary apices densely pubescent.

Festuca subg. Obtusae has been divided into two sections. The two species which occur in eastern North America belong to Festuca sect. Obtusae E.B. Alexeev. A third species, F. japonica Makino, belongs in Festuca sect. Fauria E.B. Alexeev.

 

2. Festuca subverticillata (Pers.) E.B. Alexeev
Nodding Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, or culms solitary to few in a tuft, without rhizomes. Culms (40) 50–100(150) cm, glabrous, erect or decumbent at the base. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or sparse-ly pilose, shredding into fibers; ligules (0.2)0.5–1(2) mm; blades (3)5–10 mm wide, flat or loosely convolute, glabrous or sparsely pilose, smooth or scabrous, veins (11)15–39, ribs obscure; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; girders or pillars usually associated with the major veins. Inflorescences 13–25 cm, open, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches lax, usually reflexed, sometimes spreading, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches, not or only slightly imbricate. Spikelets 4–5(7) mm, elliptic to ovate, with 2–4(6) florets. Glumes ovate-lanceolate, scabrous on the veins and distal margins; lower glumes 2.5–3.5 mm, usually distinctly shorter than the adjacent lemmas; upper glumes 3–4(4.7) mm; lemmas 3–4.5 mm, ovate-lanceolate to ovate, stiffly chartaceous, glabrous, obtuse or somewhat acute, unawned; paleas as long as or slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabridulous distally; anthers (0.8)1–1.7(2.2) mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 42.

Festuca subverticillata grows in moist to dry, deciduous or mixed forests with organic rocky soils, from Manitoba to Nova Scotia, south to eastern Texas, Florida, and north-eastern Mexico.

Plants that are sparsely pilose over the sheaths and blades have been named F. subverticillata f. pilosifolia (Dore) Darbysh. They frequently grow in mixed populations with F. subverticillata (Pers.) E.B. Alexeev f. subverticillata.

Festuca subverticillata resembles F. paradoxa, but its spikelets are less crowded on the branches.

 

3. Festuca paradoxa Desv.
Cluster Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 50–120 cm, glabrous. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glab-rous, shredding into fibers; ligules (0.2)0.5–1.5 mm; blades 2–8 mm wide, flat or loosely convolute, smooth or scabrous, veins 9–35, ribs obscure; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; girders or pillars usually associated with the major veins. Inflorescences (5)10–20 cm, open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches lax, ascending to spreading, spikelets clustered towards the ends of the branches, closely imbricate. Spikelets 4–7(7.5) mm, elliptic to obovate, with 3–5(8) florets. Glumes lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, scabrous at least on the veins; lower glumes (2.5)3–4(5) mm, usually almost as long as the adjacent lemmas; upper glumes (3.5)4–5(5.5) mm; lemmas 4–5(5.2) mm, stiffly chartaceous, ovate to obovate, glabrous, somewhat acute, unawned; paleas as long as or slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers (0.7)1–2(2.5) mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = unknown.

Festuca paradoxa grows in prairies, open woods, thickets, and low open ground, from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, south to northeastern Texas and northern Georgia. It resembles F. subverticillata, but its spikelets are more crowded on the branches.

 

Festuca subg. Subulatae (Tzvelev) E.B. Alexeev

Plants loosely cespitose, without rhizomes. Innovations extravaginal. Blades lax, flat or convolute; ribs shallow and indistinct; sclerenchyma forming pillars or girders at the major veins. Calluses sometimes wider than long, sometimes narrower, scabrous at the margins; lemmas chartaceous, sometimes minutely bidentate, usually awned, sometimes unawned; ovary apices densely pubescent.

Festuca subg. Subulatae contains about 30–35 species. It is known from eastern Asia and western North America, as well as Central and South America. Three of the five sections that have been described occur in North America.

 

Festuca sect. Subulatae Tzvelev

Plants loosely cespitose. Innovations extravaginal. Blades lax, flat or convolute; ribs shallow and indistinct; sclerenchyma forming pillars or girders at the major veins. Calluses sometimes wider than long, sometimes narrow, scabrous at the margins; lemmas chartaceous, entire, awned or unawned; ovary apices densely pubescent.
Festuca sect. Subulatae is the largest section in this subgenus and contains about 20–25 species. Its range includes eastern Asia, western North America, and Central and South America.

 

4. Festuca subulata Trin.
Bearded Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, without rhizomes, with short extravaginal tillers. Culms (35)50–100(120) cm, erect or decumbent at the base, scab-rous. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, shred-ding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.2–0.6(1) mm; blades 3–10 mm wide, flat or loosely convolute, abaxial and adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent, veins 13–29, ribs obscure; sclerenchyma in narrow abaxial and adaxial strands; pillars or girders formed at the major veins. Inflorescences 10–40 cm, open, with 1–2(5) branches per node; branches lax, usually spreading, sometimes reflexed. Spikelets 6–12 mm, with (2)3–5(6) florets. Glumes sparsely scabrous towards the apices, acuminate to subulate; lower glumes (1.8)2–3(4) mm; upper glumes (2)3–6 mm; calluses wider than long, glabrous, smooth or slightly scabrous; lemmas 5–9 mm, glabrous, sometimes sparsely scabrous, lanceolate, apices entire, acute to acuminate, awned, awns (2.5) 5–15(20) mm, terminal, straight, sometimes curved or kinked; paleas about as long as or slightly longer than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 1.5–2.5(3) mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca subulata grows on stream banks and in open woods, meadows, shady forests, and thickets, to about 2800 m. Its range extends from the southern Alaska panhandle eastward to southwestern Alberta and western South Dakota, and southward to central California and Colorado.

Festuca subulata differs from F. subuliflora in having blunter, glabrous calluses and glabrous, often scabrous or puberulent leaf blades that are obscurely ribbed.

 

5. Festuca sororia Piper
Ravine Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, with-out rhizomes, with short extra-vaginal tillers. Culms 60–100 (150) cm, erect, glabrous; nodes usually exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or scabrous, shredding into fibers; ligules 0.3–1.5 mm; blades 3–6(10) mm wide, flat, lax, margins scabrous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces glabrous, adaxial surfaces sometimes scabrous, veins 13–25, ribs obscure; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; girders or pillars formed at the major veins. Inflorescences 10–20(40) cm, open or somewhat contracted, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches lax, more or less spreading, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches. Spikelets 7–12 mm, with (2)3–5 florets. Glumes lanceolate, scabrous at least on the midvein, acute to acuminate; lower glumes (1.5) 2.5–4(4.5) mm; upper glumes (3)4–6.5 mm; calluses wider than long, glabrous, smooth or slightly scabrous; lemmas (5)6–8(9) mm, lanceolate, scabrous or puberulent, acuminate, unawned or awned, awns to 2 mm; paleas about as long as or shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 1.6–2.5 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = unknown.

Festuca sororia grows in open woods and on shaded slopes and stream banks, at 2000–3000 m. It is restricted to the United States, growing from central Utah and Colorado to Arizona and New Mexico. A single puzzling specimen is the basis for the reported occurrence of this species in Missouri (Yatskievych 1999).

 

Festuca sect. Elmeri E.B. Alexeev

Plants loosely cespitose. Innovations extravaginal. Blades lax, flat or convolute; ribs shallow and indistinct; sclerenchyma girders present at the major veins. Calluses wider than long, scabrous at the margins; lemmas chartaceous, minutely bidentate, awned; ovary apices densely pubescent.
One species has been placed in this section.

 

6. Festuca elmeri Scribn. & Merr.
Coast Fescue, Elmer’s Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose. Culms 40–100(120) cm, glabrous, erect or slightly decumbent at the base. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous, smooth or slightly scabrous, shredding into fibers; collars glabrous, smooth or slightly scabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5(0.7) mm; blades 1.8–6 mm wide, vegetative shoot blades narrower than the cauline blades, flat or loosely conduplicate or convolute, abaxial surfaces glabrous, adaxial surfaces slightly scabrous or pubescent, veins 7–19, ribs obscure to prominent; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; pillars or girders present at the major veins. Inflorescences 10–20 cm, open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches lax, more or less spreading, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches. Spikelets (7)7.5–11 mm, with 2–6(7) florets. Glumes lanceolate, glabrous, smooth or the apices slightly scabrous, acuminate; lower glumes 2–4 mm; upper glumes 3–4.6 mm; calluses wider than long, smooth or slightly scabrous, glabrous; lemmas 5.5–7 mm, lanceolate, scabrous or puberulent, minutely bidentate, awned, awns (1.5)2–5(8) mm, subterminal, straight to slightly curved or kinked; paleas as long as or longer than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (3)3.4–4 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca elmeri grows on moist wooded slopes, usually below 300(500) m, from Oregon to south-central California. The more southerly populations, which have larger spikelets with 5–6, rather than 3–4, florets and a more compact inflorescence with more or less erect panicle branches, have been named F. elmeri subsp. luxurians Piper.

 

Festuca sect. Subuliflorae (E.B. Alexeev) Darbysh.

Plants loosely cespitose; innovations extravaginal; blades lax, flat or convolute; ribs obscure to prominent; sclerenchyma girders present at the major veins. Calluses longer than wide, bearded with a ring of hairs; lemmas chartaceous, minutely bidentate, awned; ovary apices densely pubescent.

Only one species has been placed in this section.

 

7. Festuca subuliflora Scribn.
Crinkle-Awn Fescue, Coast Range Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 40–125 cm, glabrous. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glab-rous or pubescent, shredding into fibers; collars glabrous or pubescent; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 2–6(8) mm wide, flat or loosely convolute, abaxial sur-faces glabrous or sparsely pubescent, adaxial surfaces pubescent, veins 13–29, ribs obscure to prominent; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; pillars or girders present at the major veins. Inflorescences 7–20 cm, open, with 1(2) branches per node; branches lax, spreading. Spikelets 8–12.5 mm, with (2)3–5 florets. Glumes glabrous, lanceolate to subulate; lower glumes (2)2.5–4 mm; upper glumes 3.5–5.5(6) mm; calluses much longer than wide, pubescent at least basally; lemmas 6–9 mm, lanceolate, puberulent, particularly towards the bases, sometimes slightly scabrous, particularly towards the apices, apices minutely bidentate, awned, awns 10–15 mm, slightly subterminal, flexuous, or kinked; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (2)2.5–4 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca subuliflora grows in shady sites in dry to moist forests, usually below 700 m. Its range extends from southwestern British Columbia to central California. Superficially, it resembles F. subulata; it differs in having more elongated and distinctly hairy calluses, and often in having softly pubescent foliage and more strongly ribbed blades.

 

Festuca L. subg. Festuca

Plants loosely or densely cespitose, with or without rhizomes. Innovations intravaginal or extravaginal. Blades usually more or less stiff, setaceous if lax, usually conduplicate, sometimes convolute or flat; ribs usually distinct; sclerenchyma girders sometimes present at the major veins. Calluses wider than long, scabrous on the margins; lemmas usually membranous or chartaceous, rarely somewhat coriaceous, usually entire, sometimes minutely bidentate, usually awned, sometimes unawned; ovary apices glabrous or sparsely to densely pubescent.

Festuca subg. Festuca is most abundant in the Northern Hemisphere, but it is distributed on all continents except Antarctica. Estimating the number of species in this subgenus is difficult in the absence of adequate treatments for many parts of the world, but it probably exceeds 400.

 

Festuca sect. Breviaristatae Krivot.

Plants usually densely cespitose, sometimes loosely cespitose, rhizomes short or absent. Innovations mostly intravaginal. Blades usually more or less stiff, conduplicate, sometimes convolute or flat; ribs usually distinct; sclerenchyma girders usually present at the major veins, rarely absent. Calluses wider than long, scabrous on the margins; lemmas chartaceous, sometimes somewhat coriaceous, apices entire, awned or unawned; ovary apices usually pubescent, sometimes sparsely pubescent, rarely glabrous.

Festuca sect. Breviaristatae is distributed in Asia and North America. It contains about 15 species.

 

8. Festuca altaica Trin.
Northern Rough Fescue, Altai Fescue, Fétuque d’Altai

Plants densely cespitose, rarely with short rhizomes. Culms (25)30–90(120) cm, glabrous or slightly scabrous; nodes usually not exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or scabrous, persist-ent, not shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.2–0.6 (1) mm; blades deciduous, 2–4 mm wide, convolute, conduplicate, sometimes flat, 1–2.5 mm in diameter when conduplicate, yellow-green to dark green, abaxial surfaces scabrous, adaxial surfaces glabrous or pubescent, smooth or scabrous, veins 7–15(17), ribs 5–9; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands about as wide as the adjacent veins; adaxial sclerenchyma present; girders associated with the major veins. Inflorescences 5–16 cm, open, often secund, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches lax, spreading, lower branches usually recurved or reflexed, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches. Spikelets 8–14 mm, usually purple, lustrous, with 3–4(6) florets. Glumes glabrous or slightly scabrous, distinctly shorter than the adjacent lemmas; lower glumes 4–6.8(8.5) mm; upper glumes (4.5)5.3–7.5(10) mm; lemmas (6.5)7.5–9(12) mm, chartaceous, scabrous, at least on the veins, keeled on the lower 1/2, veins 5, prominent, apices attenuate or short-awned, awns 0.2–0.7 mm; paleas about as long as or a little shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 2.6–4.5(5) mm; ovary apices usually sparsely pubescent, rarely glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca altaica is a plant of rocky alpine habitats, arctic tundra, and open boreal or subalpine forests. Its primary distribution extends from Alaska eastward to the western Northwest Territories, and south in the alpine regions of British Columbia and west-central Alberta. Disjunct populations occur in Quebec, western Labrador and Newfoundland, and in Michigan, where it may be introduced. From the Bering Sea it extends westward to the Altai Mountains of central Asia.

The spikelets of Festuca altaica are lustrous and usually intensely purplish; plants with greenish spikelets have been named F. altaica f. pallida Jordal. A form producing pseudoviviparous spikelets, F. altaica f. vivipara Jordal, has been described from Alaska.

 

9. Festuca hallii (Vasey) Piper
Plains Rough Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, usually with short rhizomes. Culms (16)25–65(85) cm, glabrous, smooth or scabrous near the inflorescence; nodes usually not exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous, smooth or scabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.3–0.6 mm; blades usually conduplicate and 0.5–1.2 mm in diameter, rarely flat and 1–2.5 mm wide, gray-green, deciduous, abaxial surfaces scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent, veins (5)7–9, ribs 5–7, conspicuous; abaxial sclerenchyma usually forming continuous or interrupted bands; adaxial sclerenchyma present; girders developed at the 3(5) major veins; pillars developed at most other veins. Inflorescences 6–16 cm, usually more or less contracted, open at anthesis, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches erect or stiffly spreading, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches. Spikelets (6.5)7–9.5 mm, with 2–3(4) florets. Glumes about equaling or slightly exceeding the upper florets; lower glumes 5–8(9.5) mm, about equaling or slightly longer than the adjacent lemmas; upper glumes 6.2–8.5(9.5) mm; lemmas 5.5–8(9) mm, chartaceous to somewhat coriaceous, scabrous, rounded below midlength, veins somewhat obscure, apices unawned or awned, awns 0.5–1.3 mm; paleas somewhat shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 4–6 mm; ovary apices sparsely pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca hallii is a major component of grasslands in the northern Great Plains and the grassland-boreal forest transition zone, where it is an important source of forage. Its range extends from the Rocky Mountains of Canada east to western Ontario and south to Colorado. At the southern end of its range in Colorado, it grows in alpine meadows.

Festuca hallii differs from F. campestris in usually having short rhizomes, stiffly erect panicles, and smaller spikelets. Where the two species are sympatric, as in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, F. hallii is usually found at lower elevations.

 

10. Festuca campestris Rydb.
Mountain Rough Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, usually without rhizomes, occasionally with short rhizomes. Culms (30)40–90(140) cm, scabrous near the inflorescence; nodes usually not exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or scabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.8–2 mm in diameter, usually conduplicate, rarely convolute, gray-green, deciduous, abaxial surfaces scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent, veins (8)11–15(17), ribs (6)7–11; abaxial sclerenchyma usually forming a more or less continuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; girders at the 5–7 major veins; pillars at some of the other veins. Inflorescences (5)9–18(25) cm, open or loosely contracted, with(1)2(3) branches per node; branches erect to stiffly spreading. Spikelets 8–13(16) mm, with (3)4–5(7) florets. Glumes exceeded by the distal florets; lower glumes 4.5–7.5(8.5) mm, shorter than or about equaling the adjacent lemmas; upper glumes 5.3–8.2(9) mm; lemmas (6.2)7–8.5(10) mm, chartaceous to somewhat coriaceous, scabrous, backs rounded below the middle, veins more or less obscure, apices mucronate or shortly awned, awns to 1.5 mm; paleas somewhat shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (3.3) 4.5–6 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 56.

Festuca campestris is a common species in prairies and montane and subalpine grasslands, at elevations to about 2000 m. Its range extends from southern British Columbia, Alberta, and southwestern Saskatchewan south through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. It is highly palatable and provides nutritious forage.

Festuca campestris differs from F. hallii in having larger spikelets, less stiffly erect panicles and, usually, in lacking rhizomes. Where the two are sympatric, F. campestris tends to grow at higher elevations.

 

11. Festuca ligulata Swallen
Guadalupe Fescue

Plants loosely to densely ces-pitose, with short rhizomes. Culms 45–80 cm, erect or the bases decumbent, scabrous near the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, glabrous or finely scabrous; collars glabrous; ligules 3–5(8) mm; blades 1–3 mm wide when flat, 0.6–1.2 mm in diameter when conduplicate, persistent, abaxial surfaces glabrous, smooth to sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins (5)7–9, ribs 5–9; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands opposite the veins, rarely a discontinuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma sometimes present; girders sometimes present at the major veins; pillars usually present if the girders not developed. Inflorescences 6–10(16) cm, contracted or loosely open, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches erect or spreading, lower branches sometimes reflexed, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches. Spikelets 6–8.5 mm, with 2–3(4) florets. Glumes scabrous, acute; lower glumes 3–4(5.5) mm; upper glumes 3.5–5.5(6.5) mm; lemmas 4–6.5 mm, ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, smooth or sparsely scabrous towards the apices, unawned; paleas as long as to slightly longer than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 1.5–2.6 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = unknown.

Festuca ligulata grows on moist, shady slopes in the mountains of western Texas and north-central Mexico. It is listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of the United States.

 

12. Festuca thurberi Vasey
Thurber’s Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms (45) 60–100(120) cm, glabrous, smooth or scabrous below the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, smooth or scabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 2–5(9) mm, entire or lacerate, not ciliate; blades 1.5–3 mm wide, 0.8–1.8 mm in diameter when conduplicate, deciduous, abaxial surfaces scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent, veins 9–15, ribs 7–13; abaxial sclerenchyma a more or less continuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma present; girders usually formed at the major veins, sometimes only pillars present. Inflorescences (7)10–15(17) cm, open, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches 4.5–9 cm, lax, erect or spreading, spikelets borne towards the ends of the branches. Spikelets (8)10–14 mm, with (3)4–5(6) florets. Glumes unequal to subequal, ovate-lanceolate, scabrous or smooth, acute; lower glumes (2)3.5–5.5 mm; upper glumes (2.5)4.5–6.5(7) mm; lemmas 6–10 mm, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, scabrous or smooth, unawned, sometimes mucronate, mucros to 0.2 mm; paleas shorter than to as long as the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 3–4.5 mm; ovary apices densely pubescent. 2n = 28, 42.

Festuca thurberi is a large bunchgrass of dry, rocky slopes and hills, open forests, and meadows in montane and subalpine regions, at (1000)2000–3500 m. Its range extends from southern Wyoming south through Utah and Colorado to New Mexico.

 

13. Festuca californica Vasey
California Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 30–150 (200) cm, glabrous or pubes-cent, sometimes scabrous. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, persistent, glabrous or pilose, smooth or scabrous, sometimes scabrous or pilose only distally or on the distal margins; collars usually densely pubescent or with a few hairs at the margins, sometimes glabrous; ligules 0.2–5 mm, usually ciliate, abaxial surfaces puberulent; blades 1–6.5 mm wide, conduplicate, convolute, or flat, 0.5–2(2.5) mm in diameter when convolute, deciduous, abaxial surfaces scabrous or smooth, glabrous or the bases pubescent, adaxial surfaces puberulent to pubescent, veins 9–15(17), ribs (3)5–15(17); abaxial sclerenchyma forming more or less continuous bands, sometimes reduced to small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma sometimes present; girders or pillars present at most veins. Inflorescences 10–25(30) cm, open, with (1)2(4) branches per node; branches spreading and lax. Spikelets 8–18(20) mm, borne towards the ends of the branches, with 3–6(8) florets. Glumes lanceolate, glabrous or sparsely scabrous at the apices; lower glumes (4)4.5–6.7(8) mm; upper glumes (5)6–10 mm; lemmas (7)7.5–11 mm, lanceolate, scabrous, puberulent, sometimes minutely bidentate, acute, usually awned, rarely unawned, awns (1)2–3(4) mm; paleas shorter than to longer than the lemmas, pubescent or glabrous on the margins, intercostal region usually puberulent distally; anthers (3)4–7.5(8.5) mm; ovary apices densely pubescent. 2n = 56.

Festuca californica grows on dry, open slopes and moist streambanks in thickets and open woods, from sea level to 2000 m. Its range extends from Clackamas County, Oregon, to the Sierra Nevada and southern California; it is not known to extend into Mexico. It is the largest species of Festuca in the Flora region.

1. Culms 30–80(100) cm tall, usually pubescent for more than 5 mm below the nodes; lower sheaths densely retrorsely pubescent; vegetative shoot blades with (3)5–9 ribs, the ribs to about 1/2 as deep as the blade thickness; abaxial sclerenchyma in small strands or forming continuous bands; adaxial sclerenchyma strands present or absent; sclerenchyma pillars rarely formed; girders not developed; spikelets with 3–4(5) florets ... subsp. parishii
1. Culms 60–150(200) cm tall, glabrous or pubescent for less than 5 mm below the nodes; lower sheaths glabrous or pubescent, if pubescent then usually not densely retrorsely hairy; vegetative shoot blades with 7–15(17) ribs, the ribs usually more than 1/2 as deep as the blade thickness; abaxial sclerenchyma forming a continuous band; adaxial scler-enchyma in strands; sclerenchyma pillars or girders usually associated with most of the veins; spikelets with (3)4–6(8) florets ... 2
2. Ligules 0.2–1(1.2) mm long, ciliate; spikelets (8)13–18(20) mm long ... subsp. californica
2. Ligules (1)1.5–5 mm long, ciliate or not; spikelets 8–12(17) mm long ... subsp. hitchcockiana

 

Festuca californica Vasey subsp. californica

Culms 60–150(200) cm, densely pubescent for less than 5 mm below the nodes, particularly the upper nodes. Sheaths glabrous or pubescent; collars usually densely pubescent, at least at the margins, sometimes glabrous; ligules 0.2–1(1.2) mm, ciliate; blades 30+ cm long, 3–6.5 mm wide, conduplicate or flat, ribs 7–15(17), usually more than 1/2 as deep as the blade thickness, abaxial surfaces glabrous or sparsely pubescent proximally, adaxial surfaces pubescent; abaxial sclerenchyma forming a continuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma present; girders usually formed at most veins. Inflorescences 15–25(30) cm. Spikelets (8)13–18(20) mm, with (3)4–6(8) florets. Lemmas usually entire, sometimes minutely bidentate. 2n = 56.

Festuca californica subsp. californica is the most widespread variety, growing from west-central Oregon to central California. The lower leaf sheaths are typically glabrous and scabrous, but sometimes have spreading hairs. This subspecies differs from subsp. parishii in having wider and longer leaf blades and more extensively developed sclerenchyma.

 

Festuca californica subsp hitchcockiana (E.B. Alexeev) Darbysh.

Culms 60–120 cm, glabrous or pubescent for less than 5 mm below the nodes. Sheaths usually glabrous or scabrous, sometimes pubescent; collars glabrous or indistinctly pubescent; ligules (1)1.5–5 mm, sometimes ciliate, abaxial surfaces pubescent; blades 3–6.5 mm wide, conduplicate or flat, ribs 7–15(17), usually more than 1/2 as deep as the blade thickness, abaxial surfaces glabrous or sparsely pubescent proximally, adaxial surfaces pubescent; abaxial sclerenchyma forming continuous bands; adaxial sclerenchyma present; girders usually formed at most veins. Inflorescences 15–25 cm. Spikelets 8–12(17) mm, with (4)5–6(8) florets. Lemmas usually entire, sometimes minutely bidentate. 2n = unknown.

Festuca californica subsp. hitchcockiana is distinguished by its relatively long ligules. It is known only from Santa Clara and San Luis Obispo counties, California.

 

Festuca californica subsp. parishii (Piper) Darbysh.

Culms 30–80(100) cm, densely pubescent for more than 5 mm below the nodes, particularly the upper nodes. Sheaths densely retrorsely pubescent; collars usually densely pubescent, at least at the margins; ligules (0.2)0.5–1.5(2) mm, ciliate; blades 10–30 cm long, 1–3 mm wide, 0.5–1.2(1.5) mm in diameter when conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous or pubescent proximally, adaxial surfaces pubescent, ribs (3)5–9, to about 1/2 as deep as the blade thickness; abaxial sclerenchyma in small strands or forming continuous bands; adaxial sclerenchyma sometimes present; girders not developed; pillars rarely formed. Inflorescences 10–20 cm. Spikelets 11–16 mm, with 3–4(5) florets. Lemmas usually minutely bidentate, sometimes entire. 2n = unknown.

Festuca californica subsp. parishii grows in southern California, in the San Bernardino, San Gabriel, and Palomar mountains. Its leaf blades tend to be narrower and shorter than in subsp. californica (10–30 cm long versus more than 30 cm long), and the sclerenchyma is less developed, with pillars only sometimes present and girders absent. The lower leaf sheaths are densely retrorsely pubescent.

 

Festuca L. sect. Festuca

Plants loosely or densely cespitose, with short rhizomes or without rhizomes. Innovations mostly intravaginal. Blades more or less stiff, setaceous if lax, usually conduplicate, sometimes convolute or flat; ribs usually distinct; sclerenchyma usually only developed on the adaxial surface, sometimes forming pillars or girders at the major veins. Calluses wider than long, scabrous on the margins; lemmas chartaceous, apices usually entire, rarely minutely bidentate, usually awned, sometimes unawned; ovary apices usually pubescent, sometimes sparsely pubescent, rarely glabrous.

Festuca sect. Festuca is most abundant in the Northern Hemisphere. Its species are native to all continents except Antarctica. There are perhaps 400 or more species in this section, with new ones constantly described.

 

14. Festuca rubra L.
Red Fescue, Fétuque Rouge

Plants usually rhizomatous, usually loosely to densely ces-pitose, culms sometimes single and widely spaced, sometimes stoloniferous. Culms (8)10–120 (130) cm, erect or decumbent, glabrous and smooth. Sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length when young, readily splitting with age, usually pubescent, at least distally, hairs retrorse or antrorse, sometimes glabrous, not persistent, older vegetative shoot sheaths shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades usually conduplicate or convolute and 0.3–2.5 mm in diameter, sometimes flat and 1.5–7 mm wide, abaxial surfaces glabrous, smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent, veins 5–9(13), ribs (3)5–7(9), usually conspicuous; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–9(13) discrete or partly confluent strands, rarely forming a complete band; adaxial sclerenchyma sometimes present in fascicles opposite the veins; girders and pillars not developed. Inflorescences (2)3.5–25(30) cm, usually open or loosely contracted panicles, occasionally racemes, with 1–3 branches per node, lower branches with 2+ spikelets; branches erect or spreading, stiff or lax, glabrous, scabrous, or pubescent. Spikelets (6)7–17 mm, with 3–10 florets. Glumes ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, exceeded by the distal florets; lower glumes (1.5)2–6(7) mm; upper glumes (3)3.5–8.5 mm; lemmas 4–9.5 mm, usually glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous towards the apices, sometimes densely pubescent throughout, attenuate or acuminate in side view, awned, awns (0.1)0.4–4.5 mm; paleas slightly shorter than to about equaling the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 1.8–4.5 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 28, 42, 56, 70.

Festuca rubra is interpreted here as a morphologically diverse polyploid complex that is widely distributed in the arctic and temperate zones of Europe, Asia, and North America. Its treatment is complicated by the fact that Eurasian material has been introduced in other parts of the world. In addition, hundreds of forage and turf cultivars have been developed, many of which have also been widely distributed.

Within the complex, morphologically, ecologically, geographically, and/or cytogenetically distinct taxa have been described, named, and given various taxonomic ranks. In some cases these taxa represent extremes, and in other cases they are morphologically intermediate between other taxa. Moreover, hybridization and/or introgression between native taxa, and between native and non-native taxa, may be occurring. In Iceland and southern Greenland, putative hybrids between Festuca frederikseniae and F. rubra have been reported, and named F. villosa-vivipara (Rosenv.) E.B. Alexeev.

Overlap in morphological characters between most taxa in the complex has led some taxonomists to ignore the variation within the complex, calling all its members Festuca rubra without qualification. This obscures what is known about the complex, and presents an extremely heterogeneous assemblage of plants as a single “species”—or a mega-species. The following account attempts to reflect the genetic diversity of the F. rubra complex in the Flora region. All the taxa are recognized as subspecies, but they are not necessarily equivalent in terms of their distinction and genetic isolation. Much more work on the taxonomy of the F. rubra complex is needed before the boundaries of individual taxa can be firmly established. Some variants that need attention are (1) plants growing on the sandy shores of the Great Lakes that have glaucous leaves and spikelets, sometimes treated as F. rubra var. juncea (Hack.) K. Richt., (2) native plants along the James Bay and Hudson Bay shore that are ecologically distinct from F. rubra subsp. rubra, (3) native plants growing in marshes, sometimes called F. rubra var. megastachys (Gaudin) Hegi (Dore and McNeill 1980), (4) seashore variants along the Atlantic coast of North America, (5) plants with glaucescent leaves and spikelets which are widely distributed in the Flora region and have been called F. rubra subsp. glaucodea Piper, (6) the widespread variant with pubescent to villous lemmas, sometimes called F. rubra f. squarrosa (Hartm.) Holmb.

Festuca earlei is sometimes confused with F. rubra. It differs in having pubescent ovary apices.

 

1.Plants not rhizomatous, densely cespitose ... 2
1. Plants rhizomatous, usually loosely to densely cespitose, sometimes with solitary culms ... 3
2. Anthers 2.3–3.2 mm long; lemma awns 0.1–3 mm long; plants of natural habitats in coastal areas ... subsp. pruinosa
2. Anthers 1.8–2.2(3) mm long; lemma awns 1–3.3 mm long; plants of lawns, road verges, and other disturbed areas ... subsp. commutata
3. Vegetative shoot blades usually flat or loosely conduplicate; plants strongly rhizomatous; adaxial sclerenchyma strands always present ... subsp. fallax
3. Vegetative shoot blades usually conduplicate, sometimes flat; plants strongly or weakly rhizomatous; adaxial sclerenchyma strands sometimes present ... 4
4. Plants not or only loosely cespitose, the culms usually single and widely spaced; plants of moist meadows in montane and subalpine regions of the western cordillera, usually above 1000 m ... subsp. vallicola
4. Plants loosely to densely cespitose, with several culms arising from the same tuft; plants of various habitats and elevations ... 5
5. Inflorescence branches scabrous or pubescent; lemmas usually moderately to densely pilose, sometimes only partially pilose, occasionally glabrous; lemma awns (0.2)0.5–1.6 (2.5) mm long; plants of subalpine, alpine, boreal, and arctic regions, both littoral and inland ... subsp. arctica
5. Inflorescence branches scabrous; lemmas usually glabrous, the lemmas of littoral plants sometimes hairy; lemma awns (0.1)0.4–5 mm long; plants of various habitats ... 6
6. Plants widely distributed, sometimes coastal ... 7
6. Plants of the Pacific coast, often growing close to the littoral zone ... 8
7. Lower glumes 3–4.5 mm long; inflorescences 7–12 cm long, lanceolate; plants of disturbed habitats throughout temperate and mesic regions ... subsp. rubra
7. Lower glumes 2.2–3.2(4.5) mm long; inflorescences 3–10 (20) cm long, linear to lanceolate; plants of natural habitats in coastal areas ... subsp. pruinosa
8. Cauline leaf sheaths tightly enclosing the culms; mature inflorescences usually completely exserted from the sheaths ... 9
8. Cauline leaf sheaths loosely or tightly enclosing the culms; mature inflorescences usually partly included in the uppermost sheaths ... 10
9. Lemmas 4.5–6.5 mm long; sheaths glabrous or pubescent; plants of coastal rocks, cliffs, and sands ... subsp. pruinosa
9. Lemmas 6–9.5 mm long; sheaths pubescent; plants of maritime sands and gravels ... subsp. arenaria
10. Lemmas 4.5–6 mm long, acuminate in side view ... subsp. mediana
10. Lemmas 5.8–9 mm long, attenuate in side view ... 11
11. Inflorescences 10–25 cm long; cauline leaf blades 2–4 mm wide, usually flat or loosely conduplicate, not glaucous; lemmas 6–9 mm long, usually glabrous ... subsp. aucta
11. Inflorescences 7.5–12 cm long; cauline leaf blades to 2.5 mm wide when flat, usually loosely to tightly conduplicate, sometimes glaucous; lemmas 5.8–6.6 mm long, glabrous or hairy ... subsp. secunda

 

Festuca rubra subsp. arctica (Hack.) Govor.
Arctic Red Fescue, Fétuque de Richardson

Plants rhizomatous, loosely to densely cespitose, with several culms arising from the same tuft. Culms (8)10–40(60) cm. Sheaths pubescent, slowly shredding into fibers; vegetative shoot blades (0.7)1–2 mm in diameter, usually conduplicate, veins 5–7(9), ribs 5(7), abaxial surfaces usually green, smooth or slightly scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pilose on the ribs; cauline blades usually conduplicate, sometimes flat; flag leaf blades usually (1.5)2–6 cm; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma rarely developed. Inflorescences (2)3.5–7 cm, sparsely branched panicles or racemes, well exserted, usually congested, sometimes open; branches usually stiff and erect, scabrous or pubescent. Spikelets (6)7–13 mm, mostly reddish or purplish, with (3)5–7 florets. Glumes ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute to acuminate, often pilose near the apices; lower glumes (1.5)2.5–3.5(4) mm; upper glumes (3)3.5–5 mm; lemmas (4)4.5–6(6.5) mm, ovate to lanceolate, usually densely to moderately pilose, sometimes only partially pilose, rarely glabrous throughout, awned, awns (0.2)0.5–1.6(2.5) mm; anthers (2.3)2.5–3(3.7) mm. 2n = 42.

Festuca rubra subsp. arctica grows in sands, gravels, silts, and stony soils of river banks, bars, and flats; in periglacial outwashes, beaches, sand dunes, muskegs, solifluction slopes, and scree slopes in tundra, subarctic forest, and barren regions; and subalpine areas in the mountains. It extends from Alaska, the southern part of the Canadian arctic archipelago, and Greenland to northwestern British Columbia, the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay, and Quebec and Labrador, extending farthest south in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. It also grows in arctic and subarctic Europe and Asia, and in the Ural Mountains.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. arenaria (Osbeck) F. Aresch.
Fétuque Rouge des Sables

Plants strongly rhizomatous, usually loosely cespitose, with several culms arising from the same tuft. Culms (10)30–60 cm. Sheaths pubescent, shredding into fibers, cauline leaf sheaths tightly enclosing the culms; vegetative shoot blades 0.8–1(1.5) mm in diameter, conduplicate, veins (5)7–9(13), ribs (3)5–7(9), abaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous, green or glaucous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent; cauline blades (1)5–15(20) cm, conduplicate or flat; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7(9) broad strands, often confluent, sometimes forming a continuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma strands usually present. Inflorescences (5.5)7–15(16) cm, open, lanceolate, usually completely exserted from the uppermost leaf sheaths; branches scabrous. Spikelets (7)9–10(13) mm, with (4)6–8(9) florets. Glumes ovate-lanceolate, acute; lower glumes 3–6(6.5) mm; upper glumes (3.5)4–6.5(8.5) mm; lemmas 6–8(9.5) mm, lanceolate, green, sometimes glaucous, glabrous or villous, apices acute to acuminate, awned, awns (0.5)1–2(3) mm; anthers 2.6–4.5 mm. 2n = 56.

Festuca rubra subsp. arenaria is a European taxon that grows in maritime sands and gravels. It is known in the Flora region only from one specimen collected on Vancouver Island; it is not known to have persisted. The description is based on the range of variation seen in Europe. In the Flora region, the name has long been misapplied to F. richardsonii Hook. [= F. rubra subsp. arctica], which also has hairy lemmas.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. aucta (V.I. Krecz. & Bobrov) Hultén
Aleut Fescue

Plants rhizomatous, loosely cespitose, with several culms arising from the same tuft. Culms 30–120 cm. Sheaths pubescent, shredding into fibers, cauline leaf sheaths loosely enclosing the culms; vegetative shoot blades usually loosely conduplicate, sometimes flat, deep green, not glaucous, abaxial surfaces more or less uniformly scabridulous or roughened, ribs hispid or pilose; cauline blades 2–4 mm wide, usually flat or loosely conduplicate; abaxial sclerenchyma in small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma sometimes present. Inflorescences 10–25 cm, often open, lax, secund or partially secund, often partially included in the uppermost leaf sheaths at maturity; branches scabrous. Spikelets 9–14 mm, oblong, with (4)5–8(10) florets, mostly deep green or glaucous. Glumes ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, acute to acuminate; lower glumes 3.5–6 mm; upper glumes 5.5–8.5 mm; lemmas 6–9 mm, attenuate in side view, usually glabrous, sometimes pubescent, usually mostly smooth, margins and apices scabrous, sometimes almost completely scabrous, deep green or the margins violet, sometimes glaucous, occasionally pubescent, apices awned, awns 2.5–4.5 mm; anthers 2.5–3.5 mm. 2n = unknown.

Festuca rubra subsp. aucta is a coastal taxon, growing above the high tide line in the sand of stabilized sand dunes, beaches, etc., or in silt deposits. Its range extends along the Pacific coast from the Kamchatka Peninsula through the Aleutian Islands, Queen Charlotte Islands, and Vancouver Island and the adjacent continental coastline. Festuca pseudovivipara has been described as a form of F. rubra subsp. aucta, but differs from that taxon in having pseudoviviparous spikelets. It is also ecologically, altitudinally, and probably reproductively isolated from F. rubra subsp. aucta.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. commutata Gaudin
Chewing’s Fescue

Plants without rhizomes, usually densely cespitose. Culms 25–90 cm. Sheaths red-brown, scarious near the base, puberulent or pubescent, slowly shredding into fibers; blades 0.3–0.7(1) in diameter, conduplicate, sometimes glaucous, abaxial surfaces scabrous or smooth; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow to broad strands; adaxial sclerenchyma rarely present. Inflorescences 4–13(30) cm, more or less contracted, often secund; branches spreading at anthesis, scabrous on the angles. Spikelets 7–11 mm, with 3–9 florets. Glumes ovate-lanceolate, acute; lower glumes 2.5–4 mm; upper glumes 3.5–5 mm; lemmas 4.5–6 mm, green or reddish violet distally, glabrous, smooth, awned, awns 1–3.3 mm; anthers 1.8–2.2(3) mm. 2n = 28, 42.

Festuca rubra subsp. commutata is extensively used for lawns and road verges. It is native to Europe, growing from southern Sweden southward, but is widely introduced elsewhere in the world. In the Flora region, it is common south of Alaska, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. fallax (Thuill.) Nyman
Flatleaf Red Fescue, Fétuque Trompeuse

Plants cespitose, strongly rhizomatous, stoloniferous, sometimes with solitary culms. Culms 50–90(130) cm. Sheaths of innovations red-brown at the base, scarious, pubescent on the upper parts, shredding into fibers; blades usually flat and 2–7 mm wide, or loosely conduplicate and 0.8–2.5 mm in diameter; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–9 broad strands; adaxial sclerenchyma always present. Inflorescences 9–15 cm, open, lax or erect. Spikelets 8–14(17) mm, with (4)6–10 florets. Glumes ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, acute to acuminate; lower glumes 3.5–4.5(7) mm; upper glumes 5–6.5(8.5) mm; lemmas 5–7.5(9.5) mm, green or glaucous, often red-violet along the margins, glabrous, smooth, awned, awns 0.8–3.2 mm; anthers 3.5–4.5 mm. 2n = 42, 56, 70.

Festuca rubra subsp. fallax is a robust taxon that grows in damp, often disturbed places. It is native to northern and central Europe, but has been introduced widely in the Flora region, occurring from British Columbia to eastern Quebec and south to California. It is now common in some areas, occasional in others.

Festuca rubra var. fraterculae Rasm., an unusual form described from the nesting colonies of Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) on the Faeroe Islands and reported as introduced to southern Greenland, is included here in F. rubra subsp. fallax. Its luxuriant growth (flat leaves 4–7 mm wide, long stolons, and rhizomes) appears to be a phenotypic response to the soil conditions created by the puffins.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. mediana (Pavlick) Pavlick
Dune Red Fescue

Plants rhizomatous, densely cespitose. Culms 20–30 cm. Sheaths reddish brown, glabrous or pubescent, shredding into fibers, cauline leaf sheaths loosely or tightly enclosing the culms; blades 0.7–1.5 mm in diameter, conduplicate; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands; adaxial sclerenchyma sometimes present. Inflorescences mostly congested, lanceolate, often partially included in the uppermost leaf sheaths at maturity; branches scabrous. Spikelets to about 12 mm, with 4–8 florets. Lower glumes 2.5–3.2 mm; upper glumes 3.5–4.6(5) mm; lemmas 4.5–6 mm, glabrous or pilose, acuminate in side view, apices awned, awns 0.5–2 mm; anthers 2.5–3 mm long. 2n = 42 [for Festuca rubra var. littoralis Vasey ex Beal].

Festuca rubra subsp. mediana grows in sand beaches and dunes along exposed coasts, from Vancouver Island to Oregon.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. pruinosa (Hack.) Piper
Rock Fescue, Fétuque Pruineuse

Plants usually densely, sometimes loosely, cespitose, usually with obscure rhizomes and numerous vegetative shoots, sometimes with conspicuous rhizomes. Culms (15)20–40(70) cm. Sheaths reddish brown, glabrous to pubescent, shredding into fibers, cauline leaf sheaths tightly enclosing the culms; blades conduplicate, often glaucous, abaxial surfaces smooth or scabridulous, adaxial surfaces scabrous on the ribs, veins 5–9, ribs 5–7; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow or wide strands; adaxial sclerenchyma rarely present. Inflorescences (3)4–10(20) cm, congested to more or less open, linear to lanceolate, usually completely exserted from the uppermost leaf sheaths; branches stiff, erect, scabrous. Spikelets 7.5–14 mm, with 4–7(9) florets. Lower glumes 2.2–3.2(4.5) mm; upper glumes 3.5–4.5(6.5) mm, margins and apices scabrous, apices acute or mucronate; lemmas 4.5–6(6.5) mm, lanceolate, green to violet, sometimes glaucous, scabrous near the apices, apices acute to acuminate, awned, awns (0.1)0.4–3 mm; anthers 2.3–3.2 mm. 2n = 42.

Festuca rubra subsp. pruinosa grows in the crevices of rocks, in pilings, and occasionally on pebble or sand beaches, extending upward from the upper littoral zone of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America and Europe.

Plants growing on coastal sands from California to Vancouver Island that are loosely cespitose and have abaxial sclerenchyma in large strands are sometimes distinguished as F. rubra subsp. arenicola E.B. Alexeev [= F. ammobia Pavlick]. The rhizomes are rarely present on herbarium specimens.

 

Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra
Red Fescue, Fétuque Rouge Traçante

Plants rhizomatous, usually loosely cespitose, with several culms arising from the same tuft, vegetative shoots 8–22(30) cm. Culms (20)40–90 cm. Sheaths reddish brown, scarious, pubescent, shredding into fibers; blades 0.5–2 mm in diameter, usually conduplicate, sometimes flat, abaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous, green or glaucous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent on the ribs; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7(9) small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma rarely present. Inflorescences 7–12 cm, open, lanceolate; branches scabrous. Spikelets 9–14.5 mm, with 5–8 florets. Lower glumes 3–4.5 mm; upper glumes 4–6.4 mm; lemmas (4)6–7.5(8) mm, lanceolate, usually green with red-violet borders, sometimes mostly red-violet, margins sometimes scabrous, apices scabrous, acute to acuminate, awned, awns 0.6–3.2(4) mm; anthers 2.4–3.5 mm. 2n = 42.

Festuca rubra subsp. rubra grows in disturbed soil. It is often planted as a soil binder, or as turf or forage grass, in mesic temperate parts of the Flora region. Originally from Eurasia, it has been widely introduced elsewhere in the world, including most of the Flora region, from southern Alaska east to Newfoundland and Greenland and south to California and Georgia. It also grows in Mexico. Because F. rubra subsp. rubra has often been misunderstood, confounded, and lumped with other taxa of the F. rubra complex, statements about its distribution, including that given here, should be treated with caution. It is to be expected throughout the Flora region, in all but the coldest and driest habitats.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. secunda (J. Presl) Pavlick
Secund Red Fescue

Plants rhizomatous, usually loosely cespitose, with several culms arising from the same tuft. Culms (20)30–70(80) cm. Sheaths glabrous or pubescent, sometimes glaucous, shredding into fibers, cauline sheaths usually wide, loosely enclosing the culms; vegetative shoot blades 0.7–1.5 mm in diameter, conduplicate, sometimes glaucous, abaxial surfaces more or less evenly scabrous, adaxial surfaces pilose on the ribs; cauline blades sometimes to 2.5 mm wide, sometimes flat; abaxial sclerenchyma in small strands; abaxial sclerenchyma rarely present. Inflorescences 7.5–12 cm, more or less open, usually secund, often partially included in the uppermost leaf sheaths at maturity; branches lax, scabrous. Spikelets 9.5–13 mm, green to violet, sometimes glaucous, with 4–7 florets. Lower glumes 3.1–4.5 mm; upper glumes (4.5)5–5.6 mm; lemmas 5.8–6.6 mm, attenuate in side view, mostly green, sometimes with violet borders, glabrous or more or less uniformly hairy, margins and apices scabrous, apices awned, awns 1–5 mm; anthers 2.8–3.9 mm. 2n = 42.

Festuca rubra subsp. secunda grows on pebble beaches and in soil pockets on rocks, meadows, cliffs, banks, and stabilized sand dunes along seashores with high annual rainfall, on the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska south to Oregon.

 

Festuca rubra subsp. vallicola (Rydb.) Pavlick
Mountain Red Fescue

Plants rhizomatous, often with widely spaced single culms and only a few vegetative shoots, varying to loosely cespitose. Culms (20)25–70(100) cm. Sheaths tightly enclosing the culms; vegetative shoot blades 0.5–1.5 mm in diameter, conduplicate, deep green, abaxial surfaces smooth to slightly scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous on the ribs; cauline blades conduplicate or flat; abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow strands; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences 5–8 cm, closed or open. Spikelets 8–11 mm, with 4–7 florets. Lower glumes 2–3 mm; upper glumes 4–5 mm, acute to acuminate; lemmas 5–6 mm, pale green with violet borders, smooth or scabrous near the apices, apices awned, awns 1–2.5(4) mm; anthers 2–2.6 mm. 2n = unknown.

Festuca rubra subsp. vallicola grows in moist meadows, lake margins, and disturbed soil, at 1000–2000 m, in montane and subalpine habitats from the Yukon Territory/British Columbia border area south to Wyoming.

 

15. Festuca prolifera (Piper) Fernald
Proliferous Fescue

Plants usually loosely cespitose, often mat-forming, sometimes with solitary culms, rhizom-atous. Culms (10)20–41 cm, smooth, glabrous throughout or pubescent near the inflor-escence, bases often geniculate. Sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length, often splitting with age, coarsely ribbed, shredding into fibers, bases reddish brown, scarious; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.4(0.6) mm; blades 0.3–0.8(1) mm in diameter, conduplicate, green or glaucous, abaxial surfaces glabrous, smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7(9) small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (3)5–12 cm, usually paniculate, sometimes racemose or sub-racemose, compact or open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches stiff or somewhat lax, lower branches with 1–3 spikelets. Spikelets pseudoviviparous, varying in length with the stage of vegetative proliferation, the glumes and often 1 or 2 adjacent florets more or less normally developed or only slightly elongated, glabrous or pubescent, the distal florets vegetative. Glumes more or less normally developed, ovate to lanceolate; lower glumes (2.5)3–3.5(5.5); upper glumes 3.5–4.5(6.5); lowest lemma in each spikelet usually normally developed, acute, unawned, usually without reproductive structures or the structures abortive; subsequent lemmas modified into leafy bracts; paleas usually absent, shorter than the lemmas if present, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers usually aborted, when present 1.5–2.3(3) mm; ovaries rarely present, apices glabrous. 2n = 49, 50, 63.

Festuca prolifera is often abundant, and may be a dominant component in some habitats. The leafy bulbils or plantlets sometimes root when the top-heavy inflorescence is bent to the ground.

Festuca prolifera has two varieties: Festuca prolifera (Piper) Fernald var. prolifera, with glabrous lemmas; and Festuca prolifera var. lasiolepis Fernald, with pubescent lemmas. Festuca prolifera var. prolifera grows in arctic, alpine, or boreal rocky areas, in calcareous, basic or neutral soils, and is found in the James Bay area, Ungava Bay, western Newfoundland, Cape Breton, the Gaspé Peninsula, the White Mountains (New Hampshire), and Katahdin (Maine). Festuca prolifera var. lasiolepis is found in moist, sandy riverbanks, lake shores, rocky areas, and cliffs, often on limestone, from the southeastern Northwest Territories to northern Quebec, Anticosti Island, and western Newfoundland. Proliferous plants from southern Greenland with extravaginal shoots, named F. villosa-vivipara (Rosenv.) E.B. Alexeev, are similar to F. prolifera, but appear to be hybrids between F. rubra and F. frederikseniae.

 

16. Festuca pseudovivipara (Pavlick) Pavlick
Pseudoviviparous Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, rhi-zomatous. Culms 30–60 cm. Sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length, glabrous or scabrous-pubescent, shredding into fibers, bases red-scarious; collars glab-rous; ligules 0.5–1 mm long; vegetative shoot blades to about 2 mm wide when flat, 0.5–1 mm in diameter when loosely conduplicate, deep green, abaxial surfaces more or less uniformly scabrous, adaxial surfaces hispid or pilose on the ribs; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–9 small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma absent; cauline blades 1.4–2.5 mm wide, flat. Inflorescences (4)7–12(15) cm, open, lax, secund or partially secund, with 1–2 branches per node; branches somewhat stiff or lax, lower branches with 2–5 spikelets. Spikelets pseudoviviparous, varying in length with the stage of vegetative proliferation, most florets replaced by bracts, the glumes and sometimes the lowest floret more or less normally developed or only slightly elongated, mostly deep green or reddish tinged. Glumes more or less normally developed, lanceolate, apices scabrous; lower glumes (2.5)3.5–6 mm; upper glumes 4.5–6.5(8) mm; lemmas and bracts glabrous or pubescent, smooth or scabrous, sometimes mucronate, mucros to 0.5 mm; paleas, if present, about as long as or shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers not developed or abortive, to 2 mm; ovaries not developed. 2n = ca. 70.

Festuca pseudovivipara grows on coastal moun-tainsides, scree slopes, and other rocky areas, at 300–800 m. It is known only from the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.

Festuca pseudovivipara has been described as a form of F. rubra subsp. aucta, but differs from that taxon in having pseudoviviparous spikelets. It is also ecologically, altitudinally, and probably reproductively isolated from F. rubra subsp. aucta.

 

17. Festuca earlei Rydb.
Earle’s Fescue

Plants loosely cespitose, often with short rhizomes. Culms (15)20–40(45) cm, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, shredding into fibers, some-times slowly; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5(1) mm; blades to 3 mm wide when flat, 0.5–1 (1.5) mm in diameter when conduplicate, veins (3)5, ribs (1)3(5), abaxial surfaces smooth or slightly scabrous, adaxial surfaces sparsely scabrous; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–5 narrow strands less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflor-escences 3–5(8) cm, contracted, with 1–3 branches per node; branches stiff, erect, scabrous, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (4.5)5–6.5(7) mm, with 2–5 florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, mostly smooth, some-times scabrous distally; lower glumes 1.5–3 mm; upper glumes 2.5–3.8 mm; lemmas 3–4.5 mm, glabrous or puberulent near the apices, awns (0.3)1–1.5 mm, terminal; paleas as long as or slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 0.6–0.9(1.4) mm; ovary apices densely and con-spicuously pubescent. 2n = unknown.

Festuca earlei grows in rich subalpine and alpine meadows, at 2800–3800 m, in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. It often grows with the non-rhizomatous species F. brachyphylla subsp. coloradensis and F. minutiflora. It can be distinguished from the former by its pubescent ovary apices, and from the latter by its larger spikelets and lemmas. Because of its short rhizomes (which are often missing from herbarium specimens), F. earlei is sometimes confused with members of the F. rubra complex. It differs from them in having pubescent ovary apices and shorter anthers.

 

18. Festuca heterophylla Lam.
Various-Leaved Fescue, Fétuque Hétérophylle

Plants densely to loosely cespitose, without rhizomes. Culms 60–120(150) cm, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 3/4 their length, slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.3 mm; blades varying within a plant, blades of the vegetative shoots to 60 cm long, (0.2)0.3–0.6 mm in diameter, conduplicate, veins 3–5(7), ribs 1(3), abaxial surfaces smooth or sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, cauline blades to 25 cm long, 2–4 mm wide, flat; abaxial sclerenchyma of the vegetative shoot blades in 3–5 small strands less than twice as wide as high, of the upper cauline blades in 7–11 small strands; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences 6–18 cm, open or contracted, somewhat secund, with 1–2 branches per node; branches more or less erect, scabrous, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 7–14 mm, with (2)3–6(9) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets; ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, mostly smooth or scabrous on the upper midvein; lower glumes 3–5.5 mm; upper glumes 4–6.5(7) mm; lemmas (4.7)5–8.5 mm, lanceolate, mostly smooth, sometimes scabrous near the apices, awns 1.5–6 mm; paleas as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers 2.5–4.5 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca heterophylla is native to open forests and forest edges in Europe and western Asia. In the Flora region, it used to be planted as a turf grass for shady areas, and sometimes persists in old lawns.

 

19. Festuca valesiaca Schleich. ex Gaudin
Valais Fescue, Fétuque du Valais

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 20–50(60) cm, erect, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, usually glabrous, sometimes pubescent distally, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades (0.3) 0.5–0.8(1.2) mm in diameter, conduplicate, veins 5–7, ribs (1)3–5, abaxial surfaces glabrous or pubescent, not pilose, adaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3 broad strands, sometimes with additional narrow strands between the midrib and margins; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (3)5–10 cm, panicles, contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect or somewhat spreading, at least at anthesis, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (4.8)5.5–6.5(8.5) mm, with 3–5(8) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, mostly smooth or sometimes scabrous on the upper midvein; lower glumes 2–3 mm; upper glumes (2.3)2.5–4(4.3) mm; lemmas (3.2)3.5–4.5(5.3) mm, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, smooth throughout or scabrous distally, awns (0.5)1–2 mm, terminal; paleas as long as the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers 2.2–2.6 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 14.

Festuca valesiaca is widely distributed through central Europe and northern Asia, where it grows in steppes, dry meadows, and open rocky or sandy areas. It is sold in the North American seed trade as F. pseudovina Hack. ex Wiesb., and has been collected at a few scattered localities in the Flora region, apparently having become established from deliberate seeding.

The taxonomy of the Festuca valesiaca complex is controversial, with different authors naming morphological variants and polyploid populations within it. No attempt has been made to determine which are present in the Flora region.

 

20. Festuca amethystina L.
Tufted Fescue, Fétuque à Couleur d’Améthyste

Plants densely cespitose, without rhizomes. Culms (25)50–80(105) cm, erect, glabrous and smooth throughout. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, smooth, usually reddish blue towards the bases, persistent, flag leaf sheaths tightly enclosing the culms; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.6–1.2(1.5) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous, smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins (5)7–9, ribs 5–9; abaxial sclerenchyma in (5)7–9 broad strands, rarely some strands confluent; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (3)8–18 (25) cm, open or loosely contracted, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches somewhat lax, erect to spreading, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (5)6–8.5(10) mm, with (3)4–6(8) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate, mostly smooth and glabrous, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 2.5–4 mm; upper glumes 3–5(5.5) mm; lemmas (3.5)4–5.6(6.6) mm, usually smooth, sometimes scabrous near the apices, lanceolate, usually acute, sometimes obtuse, unawned, occasionally mucronate; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or slightly scabrous distally; anthers (2)3–4 mm; ovary apices glabrous or sparsely pubescent. 2n = 14.

Festuca amethystina is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental species; it may occasionally escape.

 

21. Festuca ovina L.
Sheep Fescue, Fétuque des Ovins

Plants densely cespitose, without rhizomes; usually not glaucous. Culms (10)30–50(70) cm, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, smooth or scabrous distally, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules shorter than 0.3 mm; blades 0.3–0.7(1.2) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins 5–7(9), ribs 1–3, indistinct; abaxial sclerenchyma usually a continuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (2)5–10(12) cm, contracted, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches usually erect, sometimes spreading at anthesis, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 4–6(7.3) mm, with 3–6(8) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, mostly smooth and glabrous, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 1–2(3) mm; upper glumes (2.2)2.6–4(4.6) mm; lemmas (2.6)3–4(5) mm, ovate-lanceolate, mostly smooth, sometimes scabrous or hispid near the apices, awns 0.5–2 mm, terminal, sometimes absent; paleas about equal to the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (1.4)2–2.6 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 14, 28.

Festuca ovina was introduced from Europe as a turf grass. It is not presently used in the North American seed trade. The sporadic occurrences are mostly from old lawns and cemeteries, or sites seeded for soil stabilization.

Festuca ovina used to be interpreted very broadly in North America, including almost any fine-leaved fescue that lacked rhizomes. Consequently, much of the information reported for F. ovina, and many of the specimens identified as such, belong to other species. The only confirmed recent reports are from Ontario (Dore & McNeill 1980); Piatt County, Illinois; and Okanogan County, Washington. Species in this treatment that have frequently been included in F. ovina are F. arizonica, F. auriculata, F. baffinensis, F. brachyphylla, F. brevissima, F. calligera, F. edlundiae, F. frederikseniae, F. hyperborea, F. idahoensis, F. lenensis, F. minutiflora, F. saximontana, F. trachyphylla, and F. viviparoidea.

 

22. Festuca glauca Vill.
Blue Fescue, Gray Fescue, Fétuque Glauque

Plants densely cespitose, without rhizomes; usually glaucous or pruinose. Culms (15)22–35(50) cm, erect, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, pubescent or glabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.4 mm; blades 0.6–1 mm in diameter, conduplicate, veins 5–7, ribs 1–3(5), indistinct; abaxial sclerenchyma forming continuous or interrupted bands; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences 2.5–9(11) cm, compact, erect, with 1–2 branches per node; branches stiff, erect, smooth or scabrous, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 5.5–9(11) mm, with 3–6(7) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to ovate, glabrous or pubescent distally; lower glumes (1.8)2–3(4) mm; upper glumes 2.8–4(5.1) mm; lemmas (3.5)4–6(6.2) mm, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, smooth or scabrous near the apices, sometimes pubescent distally, awns (0.6)1–1.5(2) mm, terminal; paleas about equal to the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (1.8)2–3 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 42 [in European literature for the horticultural forms].

Festuca glauca is widely grown as an ornamental in the Flora region because of its attractive dense tufts of glaucous foliage. It is not known to have escaped cultivation. Several other Eurasian species of fescue with white or bluish foliage are also sold in the horticultural trade as “Festuca glauca”. Determining the species involved is beyond the scope of this treatment.

 

23. Festuca filiformis Pourr.
Hair Fescue, Fine-Leaved Sheep Fescue, Fétuque Chevelue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 18–40(60) cm, mostly scabrous or pub-erulent below the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, smooth or scab-rous, glabrous or finely pub-erulent, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.4 mm; blades 0.2–0.4(0.6) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces smooth, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins 5(7), ribs 1, distinct; abaxial sclerenchyma forming a continuous or almost continuous band; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences 1–6(14) cm, usually contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches usually erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 3–6(6.5) mm, with 2–6(8) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, glabrous; lower glumes 1–2.5 mm; upper glumes (1.7)2–3(3.9) mm; lemmas 2.3–4(4.4) mm, obtuse to acute, mostly smooth and glabrous, sometimes scabrous or pubescent distally, unawned, sometimes mucronate, mucros to 0.4 mm; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers (1)1.5–2.2 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 14 (28).

Festuca filiformis is a European species that has been introduced to the Flora region as a turf grass. It grows well on poor, dry soils and is becoming a ruderal weed in some areas. It is particularly common in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, but has been reported from scattered locations elsewhere.

 

24. Festuca trachyphylla (Hack.) Krajina
Hard Fescue, Sheep Fescue, Fétuque Dressée à Feuilles Scabres

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms (15)20–75 (80) cm, smooth, glabrous or with sparse hairs. Sheaths closed for less than 1/3 their length, usually glabrous, rarely pubescent, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades (0.5)0.8–1.2 mm in diameter, usually conduplicate, rarely flat, abaxial surfaces glabrous, puberulent, or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent to pubescent, veins 5–7(9), ribs 3–7, usually distinct; abaxial sclerenchyma usually in an irregular, interrupted or continuous band, rarely in 5–7 small strands, usually more than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflor-escences (2.5)3–13(16) cm, contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect or stiffly spreading, secondary branches not divaricate, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 5–9(10.8) mm, with 3–7(8) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, mostly smooth and glabrous, sometimes scabrous and/or pubescent distally; lower glumes (1.8)2–3.5(4) mm; upper glumes 3–5(5.5) mm; lemmas 3.8–5(6.5) mm, lanceolate, usually smooth and glabrous on the lower portion and scabrous or pubescent distally, especially on the margins, rarely entirely pubescent, awns 0.5–2.5(3) mm, usually less than 1/2 as long as the lemma body; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (1.8)2.3–3.4 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 42.

Festuca trachyphylla is native to open forests and forest edge habitats of Europe. It has been introduced and has become naturalized in many temperate regions. In the Flora region, F. trachyphylla is generally sold under the name ‘Hard Fescue’, and is popular as a durable turf grass and soil stabilizer. It is particularly common in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, but is probably grown throughout the temperate parts of the region. Its naturalized distribution can be expected to expand.

For many years, Festuca trachyphylla was known, inappropriately, under other names, e.g., F. duriuscula L., F. ovina var. duriuscula (L.) W.D.J. Koch, and F. longifolia Thuill. Some European authors treat it as F. stricta subsp. trachyphylla (Hack.) Patzke. It has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

25. Festuca auriculata Drobow
Lobed Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 8–25(40) cm, erect, smooth, glabrous or pubescent below the inflor-escence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, smooth or scabrous, glabrous or puber-ulent, persistent; collars glab-rous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.4–0.8(1) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous, pubescent, or pilose, all conditions often present on the same plant, scabrous at the apices, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent on the ribs, veins 5–7, ribs 3–5, 1 distinct and 2–4 indistinct; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3 strands, 2 marginal and 1 opposite the midvein, rarely with 2 additional strands, the strands narrower than the veins and usually less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma strands absent; flag leaf blades 0.5–2 cm. Inflorescences 2–3.5 cm, racemes or panicles, contracted, with 1(2) branches per node; branches erect, lower branches usually with 1–2 spikelets. Spikelets 5–6.5(8) mm, with 3–5(6) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate to lanceolate, glabrous, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes about 3 mm; upper glumes about 4 mm; lemmas 4–5 mm, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, sometimes scabrous towards the apices, apices acute, awns 0.8–2(2.5) mm, terminal; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers 2–3.5 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 14.

Festuca auriculata is an amphiberingian species that extends from the Ural Mountains of Russia through Alaska to the western continental Northwest Territories. It grows on dry, rocky cliffs and slopes, in low arctic and alpine regions. In the Flora region, this species seems to intergrade with, and is sometimes included in, F. lenensis. The two species tend to differ in their leaf surfaces as well as in the width of their sclerenchyma strands. Festuca auriculata has also frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

26. Festuca lenensis Drobow
Lena Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms (8)10–35 (50) cm, erect, smooth, glab-rous or sparsely pubescent below the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous or pilose, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.4–0.8(1) mm in diameter, conduplicate, sometimes glaucous, abaxial surfaces glabrous, pubescent, or pilose, all conditions often present on the same plant, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent, veins 5–7, ribs 3, 1 distinct and 2 indistinct; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3 strands, 2 at the margins and 1 opposite the midvein, strands as wide or wider than the veins; adaxial sclerenchyma absent; flag leaf blades 0.3–2 cm. Inflorescences 1.5–4(5.5) cm, panicles or racemes, contracted, with 1(2) branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with 1–2 spikelets. Spikelets (5)7–9(11) mm, with (2)3–5(6) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate to lanceolate, glabrous, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 2.5–3.4 mm; upper glumes 3–4.3 mm; lemmas 4–5.5 mm, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, sometimes scabrous towards the apices, awns 0.8–2.6(3) mm, terminal; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers (2)2.4–3.5 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 14.

Festuca lenensis is an amphiberingean species of dry, eroding, rocky slopes in alpine and low arctic habitats. Its range extends from Siberia, Russia, and Mongolia to Alaska and the Yukon Territory. In North America, this species seems to intergrade with, and is sometimes treated as including, F. auriculata. The two species usually differ in their leaf surfaces as well as in the width of their sclerenchyma strands. Festuca lenensis has been frequently included in F. ovina.

 

27. Festuca brevissima Jurtsev
Short Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms (3)10–15 (18) cm, more than twice as tall as the vegetative shoot leaves, erect, glabrous, sometimes slightly scabrous below the inflorescences. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glab-rous, persistent; collars glab-rous; ligules 0.3–0.5 mm; blades (0.3)0.4–0.8(1) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent, veins 5–7(9), ribs (3)5(7); abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 strands, usually less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent; flag leaf sheaths often somewhat inflated; flag leaf blades 0.2–1 cm. Inflorescences (0.7)1–5 cm, usually racemes; branches erect, lower branches with 1(2) spikelets. Spikelets (4)5–7(8) mm, with 2–4(5) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate; lower glumes (1.2)2.5–3.2 mm; upper glumes (2.4)3.2–4.8 mm; lemmas (3)4–5.5(7) mm, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, glabrous, scabrous distally, awns (0.2)0.5–2.5 mm, terminal; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers (0.6)0.9–1.2 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 14.

Festuca brevissima is an amphiberingian diploid species that grows in rocky tundra habitats from the Russian Far East to Alaska and the western part of the Northwest Territories. It has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

28. Festuca brachyphylla Schult. & Schult. f.
Alpine Fescue, Fétuque à Feuilles Courtes

Plants densely or loosely cespitose, without rhizomes. Culms (5)8–35(55) cm, erect, usually smooth and glabrous, sometimes sparsely scabrous or puberulent near the inflor-escence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, smooth or scabrous, persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.4 mm; blades (0.3)0.5–1(1.2) mm in diameter, con-duplicate, abaxial surfaces smooth or sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins (3)5–7, ribs 3–5; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–7(9) narrow strands, usually less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent; flag leaf sheaths not inflated, more or less tightly enclosing the culms; flag leaf blades (0.3)1–2.5(3) cm. Inflorescences 1.5–4(5.5) cm, contracted, usually panicles, very rarely racemes, with 1–2 branches per node; branches usually erect, sometimes spreading at anthesis, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 3.5–7(8.5) mm, with 2–4(6) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate, usually glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes (1.2)1.8–3(3.5) mm; upper glumes (2.4)2.6–4(4.6) mm; lemmas 2.5–4.5(6) mm, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, scabrous towards the apices, awns (0.8)1–3(3.5) mm, terminal; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers (0.5)0.7–1.1(1.3) mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 28, 42, 44.

Festuca brachyphylla is a variable, circumpolar, arctic, alpine, and boreal species of open, rocky places. It is palatable to livestock, and is important in some areas as forage for wildlife. The spikelets are usually tinged red to purple by anthocyanin pigments; plants which lack anthocyanins in the spikelets have been named F. brachyphylla f. flavida Polunin. Festuca brachyphylla has frequently been included in F. ovina, and it is closely related to F. saximontana, F. hyberborea, F. edlundiae, F. groenlandica, and F. minutiflora. It may hybridize with F. baffinensis and/or other species to form F. viviparoidea.

Three subspecies have been recognized in North America. Festuca brachyphylla subsp. brachyphylla is circumpolar and primarily arctic, subarctic, and boreal, extending southward in the northern Rocky Mountains. The other two subspecies are restricted to alpine regions in the western mountains.

1. Culms usually more than twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves; spikelets 4.4–7(8.5) mm long; lemmas (3)3.5–4.5(6) mm long; plants boreal, arctic, and alpine in the
northern cordillera ... subsp. brachyphylla
1. Culms up to twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves; spikelets 3.5–5.5 mm long; lemmas (2.5)3.5–4 mm long; plants alpine in the southern cordillera ... 2
2. Culms usually twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves; awns 2–3(3.2) mm long; spikelets 4.4–5.6(7) mm long; lemmas 3–4(4.5) mm long ... subsp. coloradensis
2. Culms usually less than twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves; awns 1–2(2.2) mm long; spikelets 3.5–5(5.5) mm long; lemmas 2.5–4 mm long ... subsp. breviculmis

 

Festuca brachyphylla Schult. & Schult. f. subsp. brachyphylla

Culms usually more than twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves. Spikelets 4.4–7(8.5) mm. Lemmas (3)3.5–4.5(6) mm, awns (0.8)2–3(3.5) mm. 2n = 42, 44.

Festuca brachyphylla subsp. brachyphylla is circumpolar in its distribution. In the Flora region, it extends from Alaska to Newfoundland, south in the mountains to Washington in the west and in the high peaks of the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Quebec and New England in the east.

 

Festuca brachyphylla subsp. breviculmis Fred.

Culms usually less than twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves. Spikelets 3.5–5(5.5) mm. Lemmas 2.5–4 mm; awns 1–2(2.2) mm. 2n = 28(?) [chromosome count is unknown, but has been inferred].

Festuca brachyphylla subsp. breviculmis is endemic to California, where it grows in alpine habitats in the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains.

 

Festuca brachyphylla subsp. coloradensis Fred.

Culms usually about twice as long as the vegetative shoot leaves. Spikelets 4.4–5.6(7) mm. Lemmas 3–4(4.5) mm, awns 2–3(3.2) mm. 2n = 28.

Festuca brachyphylla subsp. coloradensis is a common species in alpine areas of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico. It often grows with F. earlei, from which it can be distinguished by its lack of rhizomes, and smaller spikelets and lemmas.

 

29. Festuca saximontana Rydb.
Rocky Mountain Fescue, Mountain Fescue, Fétuque des Montagnes Rocheuses, Fétuque des Rocheuses

Plants usually densely, some-times loosely, cespitose, without rhizomes. Culms (5)8–50(60) cm, usually smooth and glab-rous, occasionally sparsely scabrous or puberulent below the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, smooth or scabrous, usually persistent, rarely slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.5–1.2 mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous or sparsely puberulent, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent, veins 5–7(9), ribs 1–5; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–7 strands, sometimes partly confluent or forming a continuous band, usually more than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent; flag leaf blades 0.5–4 cm. Inflorescences (2)3–10(13) cm, contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches usually erect, spreading at anthesis, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (3)4.5–8.8(10) mm, with (2)3–5(7) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, scabrous distally; lower glumes 1.5–3.5 mm; upper glumes 2.5–4.8 mm; lemmas (3)3.4–4(5.6) mm, mostly smooth, often scabrous distally, awns (0.4) 1–2(2.5) mm; paleas as long as or slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region puberulent distally; anthers (0.8)1.2–1.7(2) mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 42.

Festuca saximontana grows in grasslands, meadows, open forests, and sand dune complexes of the northern plains and boreal, montane, and subalpine regions in the Flora region, extending from Alaska to Greenland, south to southern California, northern Arizona, and New Mexico in the west and to the Great Lakes region in the east. It is also reported from the Russian Far East. Festuca saximontana provides good forage for livestock and wildlife. It is closely related to F. brachyphylla, and is sometimes included in that species as F. brachyphylla subsp. saximontana (Rydb.) Hultén. It has also frequently been included in F. ovina.

The populations which grow in sandy areas around the upper Great Lakes have been named Festuca canadensis E.B. Alexeev; given the great variation in the species, there seems to be little justification for this. Three weakly differentiated taxa have been recognized at the varietal level in North America.

1. Culms 25–50(60) cm tall, usually 3–5 times the height of the vegetative shoot leaves; abaxial surfaces of the blades usually scab-rous; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–5 strands, sometimes partly confluent or forming a continuous band; plants of lowland, montane, or boreal habitats ... var. saximontana
1. Culms (5)8–37 cm tall, usually 2–3 times the height of the vegetative shoot leaves; abaxial surfaces of the blades smooth or scabrous; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 narrow strands; plants of subalpine or lower alpine habitats ... 2
2. Culms (5)8–20(25) cm tall, usually glabrous below the inflorescence; outer vegetative shoot sheaths mostly stramineous; blades with hairs shorter than 0.06 mm on the ribs; lemmas usually scabrous towards the apices and often along the margins ... var. purpusiana
2. Culms 16–37 cm tall, usually sparsely scabrous or pubescent below the inflor-escence; outer vegetative shoot sheaths brownish on the lower 1/2; blades with hairs to 0.1 mm on the ribs; lemmas often scabrous on the distal 1/2 ... var. robertsiana

 

Festuca saximontana var. purpusiana (St.-Yves) Fred. & Pavlick

Culms (5)8–20(25) cm, usually 2–3 times the height of the vegetative shoot leaves, usually glabrous below the inflorescence. Outer vegetative shoot sheaths mostly stramineous; blades smooth or scabrous on the abaxial surfaces, ribs on the adaxial surfaces with hairs shorter than 0.06 mm; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 narrow abaxial strands. Lemmas usually scabrous towards the apices and often along the margins.

Festuca saximontana var. purpusiana grows in subalpine or lower alpine habitats. The distribution of this taxon is poorly known; it probably extends from Alaska south to northern California. It is also reported from the Chukchi Peninsula in eastern Russia (Tzvelev 1976).

 

Festuca saximontana var. robertsiana Pavlick

Culms 16–37 cm, usually 2–3 times the height of the vegetative shoot leaves, usually sparsely scabrous or pubescent below the inflorescence. Outer vegetative shoot sheaths brownish on the lower 1/2; blades smooth or scabrous on the abaxial surfaces, ribs on the adaxial surfaces with hairs to 0.1 mm; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 narrow strands. Lemmas often scabrous on the distal 1/2.

Festuca saximontana var. robertsiana grows in subalpine or lower alpine habitats. It has only been reported from British Columbia.

 

Festuca saximontana Rydb. var. saximontana

Culms 25–50(60) cm, usually 3–5 times the height of the vegetative shoot leaves, usually glabrous below the inflorescences, sometimes sparsely scabrous or pubescent; blades usually scabrous on the abaxial surfaces, scabrules to 0.1 mm; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–5 strands, sometimes partly confluent or forming a continuous band. Lemmas smooth or scabrous distally.

Festuca saximontana var. saximontana grows throughout the range of the species.

 

30. Festuca hyperborea Holmen ex Fred.
Northern Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 5–15(20) cm, up to twice as tall as the vegetative shoot leaves, usually erect, sometimes semi-prostrate, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.5–1 mm in diameter, conduplicate, often curved or somewhat falcate, abaxial surfaces smooth or sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins 5–7, ribs 3–5; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–7 strands, usually less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Flag leaf sheaths usually somewhat inflated; flag leaf blades 0.5–5(8) mm. Inflorescences 1–2(2.5) cm, contracted, usually panicles, sometimes racemes, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect, lower branches usually with 1–2 spikelets, sometimes more. Spikelets (3)4–5.5(7) mm, with 3–4(6) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, mostly glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 1–3.5 mm; upper glumes 2.2–3.2 mm; lemmas 2.9–3.5(4.4) mm, ovate, apices scabrous and minutely bidentate, awns (0.5)1.4–2(3) mm, usually slightly subterminal, curved or slightly twisted; paleas about as long as or slightly longer than the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers 0.4–0.8(1.1) mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca hyperborea is a high arctic species that grows from Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic east to Greenland and south to Quebec. It differs from F. brachyphylla in its semi-prostrate habit, the loose sheaths and short blades of its flag leaves, the more pronounced ribs in its lower leaf blades, and its subterminal awn. It differs from F. edlundiae in having flag leaf blades shorter than 5 mm and smaller spikelets. It has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

31. Festuca edlundiae S. Aiken, Consaul & Lefk.
Edlund’s Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 2.5–10 (14) cm, up to twice as tall as the vegetative shoot leaves, usually geniculate to prostrate, erect at anthesis, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, smooth or slightly scabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades (0.5)0.8–1.1 mm in diameter, conduplicate, usually straight, veins 5–7, ribs 3–5, abaxial surfaces smooth or sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7(9) narrow strands, usually less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Flag leaf sheaths somewhat inflated; flag leaf blades (0.3)0.5–2 cm. Inflorescences 1.5–3.5 cm, often racemes, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with 1–2(3+) spikelets. Spikelets 4.5–8.5 mm, with (2)3–6 florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, mostly glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 1.8–3.5 mm; upper glumes 2.9–4.3 mm; lemmas 3.6–5.2 mm, scabrous distally, apices entire, awns 1.1–2.9 mm, usually terminal, sometimes slightly subterminal; paleas about as long as or slightly longer than the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous distally; anthers 0.6–1.1 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca edlundiae is a high arctic species that is closely related to F. brachyphylla. It grows primarily on fine-grained and calcareous substrates in arctic regions of the Russian Far East, Alaska, the arctic islands of Canada, northern Greenland, and Svalbard. It resembles F. hyperborea, differing from it in having flag leaf blades that are usually at least 5 mm long and larger spikelets. Festuca edlunieae has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

32. Festuca baffinensis Polunin
Baffin Island Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 5–25(30) cm, densely pubescent or shortly pilose near the inflor-escence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.3 mm; blades (0.4)0.6–1(1.2) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces smooth or sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent, veins (3)5–7, ribs 3–5; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–7 small strands, usually less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Flag leaf sheaths usually somewhat loosely enclosing the culms; flag leaf blades 0.5–4 cm. Inflorescences 1.5–4(5) cm, contracted, usually panicles, rarely racemes, usually somewhat secund, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (4.5)5–7.5(8.5) mm, with (2)3–5(6) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate, scabrous distally; lower glumes 2.2–3.7(4) mm; upper glumes 3–5 mm; lemmas (3.5)4–6 mm, scabridulous near the apices, awns 0.8–2.6(3.3) mm, terminal; paleas slightly shorter than to as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous distally; anthers 0.3–0.7 (1.1) mm; ovary apices usually with a few hairs, rarely glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca baffinensis grows chiefly in damp, exposed, gravelly areas in calcareous and volcanic regions. It is circumpolar in distribution, growing in arctic and alpine habitats and extending southward in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado. It has frequently been included in F. ovina. It may hybridize with F. brachyphylla and/or other species to form F. viviparoidea.

 

33. Festuca groenlandica (Schol.) Fred.
Greenland Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 10–37 cm, erect, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, per-sistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.2–0.5 mm; blades 0.4–0.7(1) mm in diameter, conduplicate, veins 5–7, ribs 1–5, abaxial surfaces smooth, adaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 strands, at least twice as wide as high, often some strands confluent; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Flag leaf sheaths tight or somewhat loose; flag leaf blades 1–5 cm. Inflorescences (1.5)2–5 cm, contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 4–5.6(6) mm, with 3–4(5) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate, mostly glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 1.5–2 mm, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate; upper glumes (2)2.2–2.7 mm, ovate; lemmas (2.5)3–3.5(4) mm, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, usually scabrous distally, sometimes smooth, usually awned, occasionally unawned, awns 0.7–2.1 mm, terminal; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region smooth or scabrous distally; anthers 0.8–1.3 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 42.

Festuca groenlandica is endemic to Greenland. Scholander (1934) initially described it as a variety of F. brachyphylla, but it differs from that species in having more extensive blade sclerenchyma, usually 7 broad abaxial strands rather than 5 narrow strands.

 

34. Festuca minutiflora Rydb.
Little Fescue, Small-Flowered Fescue

Plants loosely or densely ces-pitose, without rhizomes. Culms 4–30 cm, usually erect, sometimes semi-prostrate, glab-rous, smooth. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.3 mm; blades (0.2)0.3–0.4(0.6) mm in diam-eter, conduplicate, lax, abaxial surfaces glabrous, adaxial surfaces sparsely scabrous to puberulent, veins 3–5, ribs 1–3; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–5 small strands, less than twice as wide as high; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Flag leaf blades 0.7–3.5 cm. Inflorescences 1–4(5) cm, contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (2.5)3–5 mm, with (1)2–3(5) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, sparsely scabrous distally; lower glumes 1.3–2.5 mm; upper glumes 2–3.5 mm; lemmas (2)2.2–3.5(4) mm, ovate-lanceolate, sparsely scabrous near the apices, apices abruptly acuminate, awns 0.5–1.5(1.7) mm; paleas about as long as or slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous distally; anthers (0.4)0.6–1.2 mm; ovary apices usually with a few hairs, rarely glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca minutiflora grows in alpine regions of the western mountains, from southeastern Alaska and the southwestern Yukon Territory to Arizona, New Mexico, and the Sierra Nevada of California. It has often been overlooked or included with F. brachyphylla, from which it differs in its laxer and narrower leaves, looser panicles, smaller spikelets, more pointed lemmas, shorter awns, and scattered hairs on the ovary. In the southern Rocky Mountains, it may grow with F. earlei, which has short rhizomes and larger spikelets and lemmas. Festuca minutiflora has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

35. Festuca frederikseniae E.B. Alexeev
Frederiksen’s Fescue, Fétuque de Frederiksen

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms (5)10–35 (45) cm, pubescent near the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous or puberulent, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.2–0.5 mm; blades 0.5–0.8 mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous, smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or hirsute, veins (3)5–7, ribs 3–5, 1 distinct and 2–4 indistinct; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–7 broad, sometimes confluent strands, covering 1/2 or more of the surface. Inflorescences (1.5)2–10 cm, contracted, with 1(2) branches per node; branches erect, stiff, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets pseudoviviparous, varying in length with the stage of vegetative proliferation, the glumes and often 1 or 2 adjacent florets more or less normally developed or only slightly elongated, the distal florets replaced by leafy bracts. Glumes ovate-lanceolate, densely puberulent to pubescent throughout; lower glumes 2–4.5 mm; upper glumes (2.7)3.8–5.2 mm; normal lemmas 3.5–5 mm, densely hairy to pubescent, sometimes awned, awns to 0.2 mm; vegetative bracts unawned, leaflike, sometimes with ligules; paleas usually reduced or absent, well-formed paleas about as long as the lemmas; anthers usually poorly developed and the pollen sterile, well-formed anthers to about 2.5 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca frederikseniae grows on cliffs, rocky or sandy barrens, and alpine regions in southern Quebec (Mingan and Anticosti islands), Newfoundland, southern Labrador, and southern Greenland. It differs from F. vivipara (L.) Sm. of northern Europe and Asia in having densely pubescent spikelet bracts and fascicles, and an interrupted rather than continuous band of blade sclerenchyma. Frederiksen (1981) reported that F. vivipara occurs in southeastern Greenland, overlapping the range of F. frederikseniae and extending as far north as the southerly occurrences of F. viviparoidea subsp. viviparoidea; her paper should be consulted when trying to distinguish the complex pseudoviviparous fescues of Greenland.

In Iceland and southern Greenland, putative hybrids between Festuca frederikseniae or F. vivipara and F. rubra have been reported, and named F. villosa-vivipara (Rosenv.) E.B. Alexeev. These plants are highly variable but, unlike F. frederikseniae, produce extravaginal shoots, have closed sheaths, and have blades about 1 mm wide, with 7–9 small strands of abaxial sclerenchyma. Such hybrids can be expected within the range of F. frederikseniae in North America.

Festuca frederikseniae has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

36. Festuca viviparoidea Krajina ex Pavlick
Viviparous Fescue

Plants loosely or densely cespitose, without rhizomes. Culms (11)13.5–25(28) cm, smooth and glabrous through-out or sparsely to densely scabrous or puberulent below the inflorescence. Sheaths closed for about 1/2 their length, glabrous or scabrous, stram-ineous or brownish, persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.5–1 mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous, smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous, veins 5–7, ribs 3–5, 1 distinct and 2–4 indistinct; abaxial sclerenchyma in 3–7 small strands, covering less than 1/2 the abaxial surface and usually less than twice as wide as high. Inflorescences (1)3–4.8 cm, contracted, usually panicles, sometimes racemes, erect, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with (1)2+ spikelets. Spikelets pseudo-viviparous, their length varying with the stage of vegetative proliferation, the glumes and often 1 or 2 adjacent florets more or less normally developed, or only slightly elongated, the distal florets replaced by bracts. Glumes lanceolate, glabrous and smooth, sometimes scabrous towards the apices, or puberulent throughout or only towards the apices; lower glumes (2)3–6 mm; upper glumes (2.7)3–7 mm; normal lemmas 3.3–6 mm, mostly smooth or scabrous distally, glabrous or puberulent, awned or unawned, sometimes varying within a panicle, awns to 1 mm; vegetative bracts unawned, leaflike, sometimes with ligules; paleas usually reduced or absent, well-formed paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers usually not developed, well-formed anthers to about 2 mm; ovaries sometimes not developed; ovary apices, when present, glabrous. 2n = 49, 56.

Festuca viviparoidea is circumboreal in distribution. It may consist of hybrids between Festuca baffinensis and F. brachyphylla and/or other species (see under F. frederikseniae, above). It has frequently been included in F. ovina.

1.Plants loosely cespitose; culms usually glabrous and smooth throughout, rarely sparsely puberulent near the inflorescence; sheaths brownish, slowly shredding into fibers; abaxial sclerenchyma strands less than 2 times as wide as high; glumes and lemmas puberulent throughout or only near the apices ... subsp. krajinae
1.Plants densely cespitose; culms densely to sparsely puberulent below the inflorescence; sheaths stramineous, persistent; abaxial sclerenchyma strands 2–3 times wider than high; glumes and lemmas smooth or scabrous near the apices ... subsp. viviparoidea

 

Festuca viviparoidea subsp. krajinae Pavlick

Plants loosely cespitose. Culms usually glabrous and smooth throughout, rarely sparsely puberulent near the inflorescence. Sheaths brownish, slowly shredding into fibers; abaxial sclerenchyma strands about as wide as the adjacent veins, less than 2 times as wide as high. Glumes and lemmas puberulent throughout or only near the apices. 2n = 56.

Festuca viviparoidea subsp. krajinae grows in alpine sites of the western cordillera, from southern Alaska and the Yukon Territory through British Columbia to southwestern Alberta.

 

Festuca viviparoidea Krajina ex Pavlick subsp. viviparoidea

Plants densely cespitose. Culms densely to sparsely puberulent below the inflorescence. Sheaths stramineous, persistent; abaxial sclerenchyma strands about twice as wide as the adjacent veins, 2–3 times as wide as high. Glumes and lemmas smooth or scabrous near the apices. 2n = 49, 56.

Festuca viviparoidea subsp. viviparoidea is circumpolar and found in the high arctic, including Alaska, Yukon Territory, Nunavut, Greenland, Svalbard, and Russia.

 

37. Festuca occidentalis Hook.
Western Fescue

Plants densely to loosely ces-pitose, without rhizomes. Culms (25)40–80(110) cm, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for much less than 1/2 their length, glabrous, some-what persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.4 mm, usually longer at the sides; blades all alike, 0.3–0.7 mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces smooth or scabridulous, veins (3)5, ribs 1–5; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 narrow strands, about as wide as the adjacent veins; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (5)10–20 cm, open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches 1–15 cm, lax, widely spreading to reflexed, lower branches usually reflexed at maturity, with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 6–12 mm, with 3–6(7) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, glabrous and smooth or slightly scabrous; lower glumes 2–5 mm; upper glumes 3–6 mm; lemmas (4)4.5–6.5(8) mm, ovate-lanceolate to attenuate, glabrous or finely puberulent, awns 3–12 mm, usually longer than the lemma bodies; paleas slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers (1)1.5–2(3) mm; ovary apices densely pubescent. 2n = 28 [other numbers have been reported for this species, but are probably based on misidentifications].

Festuca occidentalis grows in dry to moist, open woodlands, forest openings, and rocky slopes, up to 3100 m. It extends from southern Alaska and northern British Columbia to southwestern Alberta, south to southern California and eastward to Wyoming, and, as a disjunct, around the upper Great Lakes in Ontario, eastern Wisconsin, and Michigan. It is sometimes important as a forage grass, but is usually not sufficiently abundant.

 

38. Festuca calligera (Piper) Rydb.
Callused Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 15–65 cm, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, lower sheaths glabrous or retrorsely hirsute, persistent, upper sheaths glabrous; collars glabrous; ligules (0.2)0.3–0.5(1) mm; blades all alike, 0.4–0.8 mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces sparsely scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous to pubescent, veins 5–7, ribs (1)3–5; abaxial sclerenchyma in (3)5–7 narrow to broad strands, usually wider than the adjacent veins; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences 5–15 cm, loosely contracted, with 1–2(3) branches per node; branches erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (6)7–9(11) mm, with (2)4–6 florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate, scabrous distally; lower glumes 2.5–4 mm; upper glumes (2.8)3–5 mm; lemmas (3.8)4–6 mm, glabrous, smooth or scabrous distally, awns 1–2.5 mm; paleas slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers 2.2–3.5 mm; ovary apices sparsely pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca calligera is a poorly known, often overlooked species. It grows in grasslands and open montane forests, at 2500–3400 m, from southern Utah to south-central Wyoming and central Colorado, south to Arizona and New Mexico. It is often found with F. arizonica. Festuca calligera has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

39. Festuca arizonica Vasey
Arizona Fescue, Pinegrass

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 35–80 (100) cm, usually densely scabrous or densely pubescent below the inflorescences. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, glabrous, smooth or scabrous, persistent; collars glabrous, smooth or scabrous; ligules 0.5–1.5(2) mm; blades 0.3–0.8 mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces scabrous or puberulent, adaxial surfaces scabrous to pubescent, veins 5–7, ribs (1)3–5(7), distinct; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 broad strands, rarely forming a complete band, forming pillars with some veins; adaxial sclerenchyma not developed. Inflorescences (4)6–15(20) cm, loosely contracted or open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect or spreading, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (6)8–16 mm, with (3)4–6(8) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate, glabrous, smooth or scabrous distally; lower glumes (3)3.3–5.5 mm; upper glumes 4.5–6.6(7) mm; lemmas 5.5–9 mm, glabrous, smooth or scabrous towards the apices, unawned or awned, awns 0.4–2(3) mm; paleas slightly shorter than the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers (2)3–4(4.2) mm; ovary apices densely pubescent. 2n = 42.

Festuca arizonica grows in dry meadows and openings of montane forests, in gravelly, rocky soil, at 2100–3400 m. Its range extends from southern Nevada and southern Utah east to Colorado and south to Arizona, western Texas, and northern Mexico. It is abundant and valuable forage in some parts of its range. It is often found with F. calligera.

Festuca arizonica differs from F. idahoensis, with which it is sometimes confused, in its prominently ribbed blades and pubescent ovary apices. It has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

40. Festuca idahoensis Elmer
Idaho Fescue, Blue Bunchgrass, Bluebunch Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms 25–85 (100) cm, usually smooth, glabrous, occasionally scabrous below the inflorescences. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, smooth or scab-rous, rarely pilose, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.2–0.6 mm; blades (0.3)0.5–0.9(1.5) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces smooth or scabrous, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent, rarely pilose, often glaucous or bluish, veins (3)5(7), ribs (1)3–5, well defined; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 wide, irregular strands; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (5)7–15(20) cm, loosely contracted or open, with 1–2 branches per node; branches usually somewhat spreading at maturity, sometimes erect, rarely reflexed, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets (5.8) 7.5–13.5(19) mm, with (2)4–7(9) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, mostly smooth, sometimes scabrous distally; lower glumes 2.4–5(6) mm; upper glumes 3–6(8) mm; lemmas 5–8.5(10) mm, scabrous at the apices, awns (1.5)3–6(7) mm, usually more than 1/2 as long as the lemma bodies; paleas shorter than to about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers 2.4–4.5 mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = 28.

Festuca idahoensis grows in grasslands, open forests, and sagebrush meadow communities, mostly east of the Cascade Mountains, from southern British Columbia eastward to southwestern Saskatchewan and southward to central California and New Mexico. It extends up to 3000 m in the southern part of its range. It is often a dominant plant, and provides good forage. The young foliage is particularly palatable.

Festuca idahoensis differs from F. arizonica, with which it is sometimes confused, in its less prominently ribbed blades and glabrous ovary apices. It has frequently been included in F. ovina.

 

41. Festuca roemeri (Pavlick) E.B. Alexeev
Oregon Fescue, Roemer’s Fescue

Plants densely cespitose, with-out rhizomes. Culms (35)50–90 (100) cm, erect, glabrous, smooth. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, glabrous, hirsute, or scabrous, persistent; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1–0.5 mm; blades 0.5–1(1.2) mm in diameter, conduplicate, abaxial surfaces glabrous or puberulent, adaxial surfaces sometimes scabrous, glabrous or pubescent, veins (5)7–9, ribs 5–9, well defined; abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 wide strands, sometimes confluent into a single band; adaxial sclerenchyma absent. Inflorescences (7)8–20(25) cm, loosely to densely contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches erect to slightly spreading, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 9–13.5 mm, with 4–6 florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate, smooth or scabrous distally; lower glumes (2)2.5–5 mm; upper glumes 4–6.2 mm; lemmas 5–7(8.2) mm, scabrous near the apices, awns (2)3–5 mm, terminal, usually more than 1/2 as long as the lemma bodies; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers (2.6)2.8–3.6(4) mm; ovary apices glabrous. 2n = unknown.

Festuca roemeri grows in grasslands and open forests, primarily west of the Cascade Mountains, from southeastern Vancouver Island southward to northwestern California.

 

42. Festuca viridula Vasey
Mountain Bunchgrass, Greenleaf Fescue, Green Fescue

Plants loosely or densely ces-pitose, without rhizomes. Culms 35–80(100) cm, smooth, glabrous throughout; nodes usually not exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, usually glabrous, some-times pubescent, strongly veined, persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules (0.2)0.3–0.8(1) mm; blades 0.5–1.3 mm in diameter when conduplicate, to 2.5 mm wide when flat, persistent, abaxial surfaces glabrous and smooth, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent, veins 5–9(12), ribs 5–9, blades of the lower cauline leaves usually reduced to stiff horny points, blades of the upper cauline leaves longer and more flexuous; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands about as wide as the adjacent veins; adaxial sclerenchyma developed; pillars and girders often present. Inflorescences (4)8–15 cm, open or somewhat contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches lax, spreading or loosely erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 9–15 mm, with (2)3–6(7) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, glabrous, smooth or scabridulous distally; lower glumes (2.4)2.8–5 mm, distinctly shorter than the adjacent lemmas; upper glumes 4.5–7(8.5) mm; lemmas (4.8)6–8.5 mm, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, smooth or slightly scabrous, apices acute, unawned or awned, awns 0.2–1.5(2) mm; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers (2)2.5–4(5) mm; ovary apices densely pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca viridula grows in low alpine and subalpine meadows, forest openings, and open forests, at (900)1500–3000 m, from southern British Columbia east to Montana and south to central California and Nevada. It is highly palatable to livestock, and is an important forage species in some areas.

 

43. Festuca washingtonica E.B. Alexeev
Washington Fescue, Howell’s Fescue

Plants loosely or densely cespitose, without rhizomes. Culms 40–70(100) cm, smooth, glabrous throughout; nodes usually not exposed. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, glabrous or scabrous, persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules (0.2)0.3–0.5 mm; blades 1.5–3 mm in diameter, loosely conduplicate to flat, persistent, abaxial surfaces glabrous and smooth, adaxial surfaces scabrous or pubescent on the ribs, veins 7–13, ribs 7–10(13), blades of the lower and upper cauline leaves similar in length and stiffness; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands opposite and about as wide as the major veins; adaxial sclerenchyma often present opposite the major veins; pillars or girders often developed. Inflorescences 8–12(15) cm, loosely contracted, with 1–2 branches per node; branches lax, spreading or loosely erect, lower branches with 2+ spikelets. Spikelets 8–15(18) mm, with (3)4–6(10) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, scabrous distally; lower glumes (2)3.5–5.5 mm; upper glumes (4)5.5–7(8) mm; calluses wider than long, glabrous, sometimes slightly scabrous; lemmas (5.5)8–10(11) mm, lance-olate, scabrous or puberulent at least distally, attenuate, sometimes minutely bidentate, awns 1–3(3.5) mm, terminal or subterminal, straight, occasionally absent; paleas about as long as the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers (3)3.7–5.7 mm; ovary apices sparsely or densely pubescent. 2n = unknown.

Festuca washingtonica grows in subalpine to low alpine regions of British Columbia and Washington. It has also been reported from Oregon and northern California; these records have not been verified.

44. Festuca dasyclada Hack. ex Beal
Open Fescue, Intermountain Fescue

Plants loosely or densely ces-pitose, without rhizomes. Culms 20–40(50) cm, erect or somewhat geniculate at the base, densely scabrous or pubescent below the inflor-escence; nodes usually not exposed, culms often breaking at the upper nodes at maturity. Sheaths closed for less than 1/2 their length, glabrous, persistent or slowly shredding into fibers; collars glabrous; ligules 0.2–0.5 mm; blades (1)1.2–2.5(3) mm wide, persistent, loosely conduplicate, convolute, or flat, abaxial surfaces glabrous, adaxial surfaces with stiff hairs, veins 7–13, ribs (6)7–13; abaxial sclerenchyma in strands opposite most of the veins, about as wide as the veins; adaxial sclerenchyma often present; pillars or girders sometimes present at the major veins. Inflorescences 6–12 cm, open, with 2–4 branches per node; branches stiffly divaricate, densely scabrous-ciliate on the angles, lower branches with 2+ spikelets; pedicels stiffly hairy. Spikelets 5.5–8 mm, with 2(3) florets. Glumes exceeded by the upper florets, lanceolate-acuminate, sparsely scabrous to puberulent; lower glumes 3.5–5 mm, distinctly shorter than the adjacent lemmas; upper glumes 5–7 mm; lemmas 5–7 mm, chartaceous, scabrous or puberulent, minutely bidentate, awned, awns 1.5–3 mm, subterminal; paleas about as long as or slightly longer than the lemmas, intercostal region scabrous or puberulent distally; anthers 1.5–2.5 mm; ovary apices pubescent. 2n = 28.

Festuca dasyclada grows on rocky slopes in open forests and shrublands of western Colorado and central and southern Utah. For many years it was known only from the type collection. When the seeds are mature, the panicles break off the culms and are blown over the ground like a tumbleweed, shedding seeds as they travel. This and other unusual features, such as the divaricate branching pattern and hairy pedicels, prompted W.A. Weber to place it in the monotypic genus Argillochloa W.A. Weber.