Plant: Perennial grass to 1 m; panicle 15-30 cm, erect or nodding, with numerous branches, contracted; spikelets 6 to 8-flowered, 8-12 mm long; lemmas 7-10 mm long, rarely short-awned.
FNA 2007, Darbyshire 1993, Gould 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Common Name: tall fescue Duration: Perennial Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Large tufted perennial with stems to 1.5 m, glabrous auricles that are falcate and clasping, sometimes with an undulating flange. Vegetative: Blades flat 20-40 cm long, 4-18 mm wide, ligule membranous and glaucous, 1 mm. Inflorescence: Spikelike panicle 8-50 cm long with 2 branches per node, erect to spreading with laterally compressed spikelets 8-13 mm long, 1.5-2.5 mm wide with 3-10 florets; disarticulation above the glumes and between the florets lower glumes 4-7 mm, equally wide, lanceolate to oblong, 3-7 veined, unawned or awned, awns to 18 mm, straight; upper glumes 4.5-7 mm; lemmas 5-9 mm, awns absent or to 4 mm, terminal or attached below the apices. Ecology: Found in disturbed sites and along stream banks from 3,000-6,500 ft (914-1981 m); flowers April-September. Distribution: Introduced to every continent and found throughout N. Amer., in every state in the US. Notes: Distinguished by being a robust perennial bunchgrass with pronounced, ciliate auricles (top section of leaf sheath wrapping around the culm), where they are glabrous in Lolium pratense; flat, wide leaves; and a condensed to semi-open panicle of spikelets with multiple florets, possessing rough-hairy lemmas. There is a significant amount of confusion about the inclusion of this species complex in the genus Lolium. As described by Darbyshire in 1993, this treatment incorporates Schedonorus arundinaceus and Schedonorus phoenix as well as previous characterizations of Festuca arundinacea. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: From Latin lolium for cockle, also the classical name for rye, while arundinaceum means resembling a reed. Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, SBuckley 2020
Much like no. 1 [Festuca pratensis Huds.], often taller, to 2 m; old sheaths pale stramineous, only tardily disintegrating; blades coarse and thick, prominently ridge-veined above, 4-10 mm wide, with ciliate auricles; first node of the panicle with 2-3 branches, each with 5-15 spikelets, these mostly 3-6-fld; first glume (3-)4-6 mm, the second (4-)5-9 mm; lemmas 7-8.5+ mm, usually scabrous distally, the awn 0.3-2(-4) mm; 2n most often = 42, sometimes 28, 56, 63, 70. Native of Europe, widely planted in our range and elsewhere in the U.S., and readily escaping. (F. elatior, a rejected name)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
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