Festuca of North America


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

Festuca rubra ‘atlantic coastal morph’


East coast maritime red fescue. Taxonomic name and status uncertain.

Habit. Plants bluish gray green, not densely tufted, tiller bases not stiffly erect, bases purplish (reddish), horizontal rooting stems present. Vegetative shoots arising outside, or breaking through the base of existing sheaths.

Vegetative morphology. Sheaths glabrous or with trichomes, not conspicuous at the base of the plant, splitting between the veins (with retrorse hairs), closed more than half their length. Collars glabrous. Auricles represented by distinct, erect, swellings. Ligules 0.2–0.5 mm long. Leaf blades more or less lax. Adaxial blade surfaces glabrous, abaxial blade surfaces glabrous. Leaf blades plicate; 0.3–0.55 mm wide, 0.5–0.8 mm deep. Veins 5. Adaxial to abaxial sclerenchyma strands absent. Abaxial sclerenchyma poorly developed or well developed, in discrete, relatively narrow strands opposite the veins. Uppermost culm leaf sheaths not inflated. Culm nodes becoming exposed, 1; internodes glabrous.

Floral morphology. Inflorescence 3.5–8 cm long. Inflorescence branches at the lowest node 1, appressed after anthesis or spreading, 0–2 cm long (sometimes unbranched). Rachis angular in cross section, trichomes mainly on the ridges. Spikelets 3 on the longest branches; 7.5–11 mm long, 0.3–0.5 mm wide. Proliferating spikelets absent. Florets 3–6. Glumes unequal, glabrous, margins ciliate. First glume 2.5–4.5 mm long, veins 1. Second glume shorter than the first lemma, 4–5.5 mm long, veins 3. Rachilla internodes antrorsely scabrous. Lemma 5.3–6 mm long, with 5 distinct veins in dorsal view, glabrous or with trichomes (sparsely), trichomes over the entire surface; apex entire. Lemma awn 0.4–1.5 mm long. Palea 5–6 mm long, distinctly pubescent between the keels. Lodicules with marginal teeth, glabrous, 1–1.5 mm long. Anthers 2.5–3.5 mm long. Ovary apex glabrous. Caryopsis 3–3.5 mm long.

Habitat and Distribution. Native; saline, usually sandy habitats. Canada: Labrador, Nfld., NS, P.E.I., NB; Northeastern USA: Maine.

Classification. Subg. Festuca L.


The possibility that there is an Atlantic, native taxon of the F rubra complex, has been considered and preliminary data gathered, but much more work is required on this problem. There may be a distinct subspecies, but that is not yet clearly understood and commercial cultivars of F. rubra have been widely introduced into the area for centuries.

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).