Festuca of North America


S. G. Aiken, M. J. Dallwitz, C. L. McJannet, and L. L. Consaul

Festuca auriculata Drobow s.s.


Tr. Bot. Inst. Akad. Nauk SSSR 14: 159. 1915. Type: Kolyma region, Panteleevskaya coniform hill, peak and stony screes, 1905, I. Shulga 155. Holotype: lost (Tzvelev 1976). Neotype: Yakutian, ASSR, Bulunskii region, northern Verkhoyanye, middle coarse of Kharaulakh River, stony tundra near the foot of coniform hill, 7 July 1960, B. Yuetsev. LE!

F. ovina subsp. alaskana Holmen, Bot. Not. 117: 114. 1964, pro parte, quod descr. sed non typus.

Habit. Plants bluish gray green, 8–15(–20) cm high, densely tufted, tiller bases stiffly erect, bases not purplish, horizontal rooting stems absent. Vegetative shoots arising from within existing sheaths.

Vegetative morphology. Sheaths glabrous or glabrescent or with trichomes, conspicuous at the base of the plant, persisting for more than 1 year, remaining entire, not conspicuously splitting between the veins, closed more than half their length (approximately half). Collars glabrous. Auricles represented by distinct, erect, swellings. Auricular cilia absent (if sheaths are hairy, the auricles positions are also hairy). Ligules 0.2–0.5 mm long, ciliate. Leaf blades 1–6 cm long, erect, stiffish (sometimes recurved). Adaxial blade surfaces with trichomes, abaxial blade surfaces glabrous or with trichomes. Leaf blades plicate; 0.3–0.45 mm wide, 0.5–0.65 mm deep. Veins 5. Adaxial to abaxial sclerenchyma strands absent. Abaxial sclerenchyma poorly developed (occurring at midvein and leaf margins only), in discrete, relatively narrow strands opposite the veins. Ribs 1 (well defined, 0–4 variously defined). Uppermost culm leaf sheaths not inflated. Flag leaf blades 0.1–1.5 cm long (conspicuously variable). Culm nodes becoming exposed (rarely) or never exposed; internodes glabrous, or scabrous-hirsute (sparsely scabrous, if applicable).

Floral morphology. Inflorescence 1–2 cm long (with 3–6(-10) spikelets). Inflorescence branches at the lowest node 0 (inflorescence unbranched). Rachis angular in cross section, trichomes mainly on the ridges. Spikelets 1 on the longest branches (borne singularly on the rachis); 5.5–6 mm long, 3–4 mm wide. Proliferating spikelets absent. Florets 3–5. Glumes unequal, with trichomes, vestiture at the apex only, margins ciliate. First glume 2.2–3.2 mm long, veins 1. Second glume shorter than the first lemma, 2.8–3.4 mm long, veins 3. Rachilla internodes antrorsely scabrous. Lemma callus not elongated. Lemma 3.7–4.2 mm long, nerveless in dorsal view or sometimes with only the centre vein distinct, with trichomes, trichomes on the upper portion only (scaberulous); apex entire. Lemma awn 0.5–2 mm long. Palea 3.5–4.2 mm long, distinctly pubescent between the keels. Lodicules with marginal teeth, glabrous, 0.7–0.9 mm long. Anthers 1.6–2.5 mm long. Ovary apex glabrous.

Cytology. 2n = 14 (Tzvelev 1976).

Habitat and Distribution. Native; arctic, or alpine. Found in the alpine zone consisting primarily of mats of Dryas and common on exposed talus slopes. Northwestern USA: Alaska.

Classification. Subg. Festuca L.


See F. lenensis Drobow. Data were gathered from three small specimens sent in from Alaska to assess whether they could be distinguished from F. lenensis. The results are inconclusive at this time. Alexeev (1985) suggested on the basis of one specimen that this species occurs in Canada. The specimen (illustrated in the image library) is considered to be that of F. lenensis. Two days of detailed field work in the area of the collection from the Northern Yukon, established that a large gravel pit has developed at the original collection site and that no other candidate specimens appeared to occur in the surrounding area (3 km in all directions).


• Herbarium specimen. Duplicate of a specimen collected in the Northern Yukon at Shingle Point, that Alexeev (1985) considered to be evidence of F. auriculata occurring in Canada. • Spikelet. Spikelet of F. auriculata scanned from Frederiksen, S. (1983). F. auriculata in North America - Nord. J. Bot. 3: 631 (with permission). • The Yukon Shingle Point. The Yukon Shingle Point. Gravel shoreline near the site where the specimen considered to be F. auriculata by Alexeev (1985) was collected. The exact location has been destroyed and no evidence of the species in the adjacent area was found in an extensive 2 day search in 1988 by S.G. Aiken. • Type specimen, LE. Type specimen of F. auriculata from the LE herbarium. Neotype: Yakutian, ASSR, Bulunskii region, northern Verkhoyanye, middle coarse of Kharaulakh River, stony tundra near the foot of coniform hill, 7 VII 1960, B. Yuetsev. LE.

The interactive key provides access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, and summaries of attributes within groups of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Aiken, S.G., Dallwitz, M.J., McJannet, C.L. and Consaul, L.L. 1996 onwards. Festuca of North America: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 19th October 2005. http://delta-intkey.com’. Aiken, Dallwitz, McJannet, and Consaul (1997) should also be cited (see References).