Festuca of North America


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

Festuca subulata Trin.



In Bongard, Mém. Acad. Imp. Sci. St. Pétersb. Ser. 6, Sci. Math. 2: 173. 1832. Bromelica subulata (Trin.) Farw., Rhodora 21: 78. 1919, quoad basionom., non descrip. Type: U.S.A. Alaska: Sitka Island. Mertens.

F. jonesii Vasey, Grasses U.S.: 43. 1883, nom. nud. Contrib. U.S. Natl. Herb. 1: 278. 1893. F. subulata var. jonesii St.-Yves, Candollea 2: 284. 1925. Type: U.S.A. Utah: City Creek Canon, Alt. 7300 feet, 17 July 1880, M. E. Jones s.n. Holotype: US! Isotype GH!

Habit. Plants deep green (leafy to near the panicle), 35–120 cm high, not densely tufted, tiller bases not stiffly erect (somewhat decumbent), bases not purplish, horizontal rooting stems absent. Vegetative shoots arising outside, or breaking through the base of existing sheaths.

Vegetative morphology. Sheaths glabrous (to more or less scaberulous), not conspicuous at the base of the plant, splitting between the veins (towards the end of the growing season), open more than half their length. Collars glabrous. Auricles absent. Ligules 0.2–0.7(–1) mm long, ciliate (the cilia much shorter than the ligule membrane, compared with F. subuliflora where the cilia are longer than the membrane). Leaf blades 10–30 cm long, more or less lax. Adaxial blade surfaces with trichomes, abaxial blade surfaces glabrous or with trichomes. Leaf blades flat, 3–8(–10) mm wide (dark green above, paler green below, sometimes with soft hairs). Veins 18–27 (prominent, the intercostal region more than twice the width of the veins). Adaxial to abaxial sclerenchyma strands present. Abaxial sclerenchyma in discrete, relatively narrow strands opposite the veins. Uppermost culm leaf sheaths not inflated. Flag leaf blades 8–15 cm long. Culm nodes becoming exposed, 2–4; internodes glabrous, or scabrous-hirsute (sparsely).

Floral morphology. Inflorescence (10–)15–30(–40) cm long. Inflorescence branches at the lowest node (1–)2(–3) (pulvinate at the base), spreading (more or less drooping), 6–10(–15) cm long. Rachis rounded in cross section or angular in cross section, trichomes mainly on the ridges or trichomes over the entire surface. Spikelets loosely scattered in an open panicle with slender branches (spikelets green or with a purplish tinge, oblong, lanceolate and occurring towards the ends of the branches); (4–)6–11(–25) on the longest branches; 6–11(–12) mm long, 1.5–3.5 mm wide. Proliferating spikelets absent. Florets 3–4(–6). Glumes unequal (linear lanceolate), glabrous or with trichomes, vestiture at the apex only (scaberulous), margins ciliate (glume margins are often rolled under and obscured). First glume (1.8–)2–3.2(–4) mm long, veins 1. Second glume shorter than the first lemma, (2–)3.5–5.5(–6) mm long, veins 1–3. Rachilla internodes antrorsely scabrous (1–2 mm long). Lemma callus not elongated. Lemma (5–)6–7.5(–8.8) mm long, nerveless in dorsal view or sometimes with only the centre vein distinct (with only 3 faint nerves), with trichomes (varying from almost glabrous to densely scabrous), trichomes over the entire surface; apex entire. Lemma awn (2.5–)5–10(–17) mm long (sometimes curving but not crinkled). Palea 6.3–7 mm long (very narrow), distinctly pubescent between the keels (trichomes very sparse). Lodicules with marginal teeth, glabrous or ciliate, 0.8–1 mm long. Anthers 1.5–2.8 mm long. Ovary apex pubescent. Caryopsis 5–10 mm long.

Cytology. 2n = 28.

Habitat and Distribution. Native; forest and woodland. Occurring on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, in moist to dry areas, often along stream banks or in forest meadows. Canada: Alta., B.C.; Northwestern USA: Oreg., Wash.; Southwestern USA: Calif., Nev.; Rocky Mountains USA: Idaho, Mont., Utah, Wyo.

Classification. Subg. Subulatae Tzvelev, sect. Subulatae Tzvelev (=Festuca subg. Schedonorus, sect. Subulatae Tzvelev).


"The three species, F. subulata, F. subuliflora Scribn., and F. elmeri Scribn. & Merr., have many unusual features in common, but apparently are amply distinct", from Hitchcock et al. (1969). Analyses of this database, that involve these species, were discussed in Aiken et al. (1997).


• Line drawing. Illustration from Scribner (1901) as F. jonesii, which is a synonym. • Type specimen of nomen nudum: GH. Type specimen of nomen nudum. F. jonesii Vasey, Contrib. U.S. Natl. Herb. 1: 278. 1893, nomen nudum; U.S.A. Utah: City Creek Canon, Alt. 7300 feet. Marcus E. Jones, A.M. 17 July, 1880. GH. • Distribution map

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).