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meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis)
Scientific classification

400-500+, see text

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meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis)
Scientific classification

400-500+, see text

Festuca (fescue) is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the grass family, Poaceae (subfamily Pooideae). They are evergreen or herbaceous perennial tufted grasses with a height range of 10–200 cm (4–79 in) and a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on every continent except Antarctica.[1] The genus is closely related to ryegrass (Lolium), and recent evidence from phylogenetic studies using DNA sequencing of plant mitochondrial DNA shows that the genus lacks monophyly. As a result, plant taxonomists have moved several species, including the forage grasses tall fescue and meadow fescue, from the genus Festuca into the genus Lolium.[2]

Because the taxonomy is complex it is not clear how many true species belong to the genus, but estimates range from over 400[3] to over 500.[1][4]

Fescue pollen is a significant contributor to hay fever.[5]


Some fescues are used as ornamental and turf grasses[1] and as pasture and hay for livestock, being a highly nutritious stock feed. Fescues are common on golf courses in the US and UK, usually beyond the second cut in the rough. Fescue is easily established on bare ground, outcompeting other plants and persisting over several years, and so is often used in soil erosion control programs. Tall fescue (F. arundinacea) is good for this purpose, and one cultivar, 'Kentucky 31', was used in land reclamation during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s in the US.[6]

Fescue is sometimes used as feed for horses. However, fescue poisoning, caused by ergot alkaloids produced by the endophytic fungus Neotyphodium coenophialum, is a risk for pregnant mares.[7] During the last three months of pregnancy fescue poisoning increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, retained placenta, absent milk production, and prolonged pregnancy.[8] Incorporating legumes into the fescue can be a way to increase livestock gains and conception rates, even if the fescue is infected.[9]


Species include:[1][10]

  • Festuca abyssinica
  • Festuca actae
  • Festuca alatavica
  • Festuca aloha[11] - aloha fescue
  • Festuca alpina – alpine fescue
  • Festuca altaica – northern rough fescue, Altai fescue
  • Festuca altissima – wood fescue
  • Festuca amethystina – tufted fescue
  • Festuca ampla
  • Festuca amplissima
  • Festuca arenaria - rush-leaf fescue
  • Festuca argentina
  • Festuca arizonica – Arizona fescue, pinegrass
  • Festuca arundinacea – tall fescue
  • Festuca arvernensis - field fescue
  • Festuca aurasiaca
  • Festuca baffinensis - Baffin Island fescue
  • Festuca beckeri
  • Festuca brachyphylla - alpine fescue, rock fescue
  • Festuca brunnescens
  • Festuca burnatii
  • Festuca caerulescens
  • Festuca caesia – blue fescue
  • Festuca californica – California fescue
  • Festuca callieri
  • Festuca calligera - southwestern fescue
  • Festuca campestris - mountain rough fescue
  • Festuca caprina
  • Festuca cinerea
  • Festuca contracta – tufted fescue
  • Festuca cretacea
  • Festuca cumminsii
  • Festuca dahurica
  • Festuca dasyclada - oil shale fescue
  • Festuca dimorpha
  • Festuca djimilensis
  • Festuca dolichophylla
  • Festuca donax
  • Festuca drymeja
  • Festuca durandoi
  • Festuca earlei – Earle's fescue
  • Festuca elegans
  • Festuca elmeri – coast fescue
  • Festuca eskia
  • Festuca extremiorientalis
  • Festuca filiformis – fine-leaved sheep's fescue
  • Festuca gautieri - bearskin fescue
  • Festuca gigantea – giant fescue
  • Festuca glacialis
  • Festuca glauca – blue fescue, gray fescue
  • Festuca gracillema
  • Festuca hallii – plains rough fescue
  • Festuca hawaiiensis - Hawaii fescue
  • Festuca heterophylla – various-leaved fescue, shade fescue
  • Festuca hyperborea – boreal fescue
  • Festuca hystrix
  • Festuca idahoensis – Idaho fescue, blue bunchgrass
  • Festuca indigesta
  • Festuca jubata
  • Festuca juncifolia
  • Festuca kingii - spike fescue
  • Festuca komarovii
  • Festuca kurtziana
  • Festuca laxa
  • Festuca lemanii - confused fescue
  • Festuca lenensis - tundra fescue
  • Festuca ligulata – Guadalupe fescue
  • Festuca litvinovii
  • Festuca longifolia - blue fescue
  • Festuca longipes
  • Festuca lucida
  • Festuca magellanica
  • Festuca mairei – Atlas fescue
  • Festuca matthewsii – alpine fescue tussock
  • Festuca minutiflora – smallflower fescue
  • Festuca molokaiensis[11] - Moloka'i fescue
  • Festuca monticola
  • Festuca muelleri
  • Festuca multinodis
  • Festuca nigrescens – alpine Chewing's fescue
  • Festuca novae-zealandiae – fescue tussock
  • Festuca occidentalis – western fescue
  • Festuca orthophylla
  • Festuca ovina – sheep's fescue
  • Festuca pallens
  • Festuca pallescens
  • Festuca panciciana
  • Festuca paniculata – east alpine violet fescue
  • Festuca paradoxa - cluster fescue
  • Festuca picturata
  • Festuca pilgeri
  • Festuca polycolea
  • Festuca porcii
  • Festuca pratensis - meadow fescue, English bluegrass
  • Festuca procera
  • Festuca psammophila
  • Festuca pseudodalmatica
  • Festuca pseudodura
  • Festuca pseudoeskia
  • Festuca pseudovina - pseudovina
  • Festuca pulchella
  • Festuca punctoria
  • Festuca purpurascens
  • Festuca pyrenaica
  • Festuca quadriflora
  • Festuca richardsonii – arctic fescue
  • Festuca riccerii[12]
  • Festuca rigescens
  • Festuca rivularis
  • Festuca rubra – red fescue
  • Festuca rupicaprina
  • Festuca rupicola
  • Festuca saximontana - Rocky Mountain fescue
  • Festuca scabra - munnik fescue
  • Festuca scabriuscula
  • Festuca scariosa
  • Festuca sclerophylla
  • Festuca sibirica
  • Festuca sinensis
  • Festuca sororia – ravine fescue
  • Festuca spectabilis
  • Festuca stricta
  • Festuca subulata – bearded fescue
  • Festuca subuliflora - crinkle-awn fescue
  • Festuca subulifolia
  • Festuca subverticillata – nodding fescue
  • Festuca tatrae
  • Festuca thurberi - Thurber's fescue
  • Festuca vaginata
  • Festuca valesiaca - Volga fescue
  • Festuca varia
  • Festuca venusta
  • Festuca versuta - Texas fescue
  • Festuca violacea
  • Festuca viridula – green fescue
  • Festuca vivipara – viviparous fescue
  • Festuca viviparoidea – northern fescue
  • Festuca washingtonica – Washington fescue
  • Festuca weberbaueri
  • Festuca xanthina
  • Festuca yalaensis[13]

Subgenus Schedonorus[edit]

Proposed for inclusion in genus Lolium

Popular culture[edit]

In a 2011 ESPN College GameDay television commercial, Lee Corso eats fescue grass after coach Les Miles tells Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit that he eats the grass of every field he plays on because it makes him "one with the field."[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Darbyshire, S. J. and L. E. Pavlick. Festuca. Grass Manual. Flora of North America.
  2. ^ Darbyshire, S J (1993). "Realignment of Festuca subgenus Schedonorus with the genus Lolium (Poaceae)". Novon 3: 239–243. doi:10.2307/3391460. 
  3. ^ Stančík, D. and P. M. Peterson. (2007). A revision of Festuca (Poaceae: Loliinae) in South American páramos. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 56 1-184.
  4. ^ Inda, L. A., et al. (2008). Dated historical biogeography of the temperate Loliinae (Poaceae, Pooideae) grasses in the northern and southern hemispheres. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46(3) 932-57.
  5. ^ Esch, R. E., et al. (2001). Common allergenic pollens, fungi, animals, and arthropods. Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology 21(2) 261-92.
  6. ^ Schardl C L, Leuchtmann L (2005). The Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem, Third Edition, ed. J Dighton, J F White Jr., P Oudemans, ed. The Epichloë Endophytes of Grasses and the Symbiotic Continuum. CRC Press. pp. 475–503. ISBN 0-8247-2355-4. 
  7. ^ "Tall Fescue". Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. April 13, 2008 (archived). Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. 
  8. ^ "Fescue Toxicosis in Horses". Department of Animal Science. Cornell University. 
  9. ^ Fescue Toxicosis. Ohio State University Extension.
  10. ^ GRIN Species Records of Festuca. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
  11. ^ a b Catalán, P., et al. (2009). Festuca aloha and F. molokaiensis (Poaceae): Loliinae), two new species from Hawai'i. J Bot Res Inst Texas 3(1) 51-58.
  12. ^ "Festuca riccerii". Galleria della Flora italiana (in Italian). ActaPlantarum. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Müller, J. and P. Catalán. (2010). A new rhizomatous species of Festuca (Poaceae, Poeae) from northwestern Argentina. Darwiniana 48(1) 87-92.
  14. ^ Lee Corso Eats Grass ESPN College GameDay Commercial. SportsGeekery.com

External links[edit]