VARIOUS-LEAVED FESCUE. 77
VARIOUS-LEAVED FESCUE (Festuca heterophylla Lam.)
Botanical description: Various-leaved Fescue is perennial, forming dense tufts. The stems, which are from two to four feet high, are thin and weak. They are surrounded at their base by leafy shoots, which arise from buds within the sheaths of old leaves and appear from their mouth as in Sheep's Fescue. The shoots are, however, much more numerous than in the latter. The leaves are very long, permanently rolled up and bristle-like, but soft in texture. The leaves of the stems are at first folded and bristly, like those of the basal shoots, but they soon become flat and look very different. This is why the plant is called Various-leaved Fescue. The flowers are in a panicle which is often nodding at the top and generally larger and more open than those of Sheep's and Hard Fescue. Each spikelet contains three to nine flowers, which have awns half or quite as long as the glumes that carry them.
Geographical distribution: Various-leaved Fescue is a native of southern Europe. In Asia it is indigenous in the Caucasus and Himalayas.
Habitat: It grows naturally in open woods and along their borders.
Cultural conditions: It prefers low-lying land where sufficient moisture is available, though it is able to stand considerable drought provided the soil is not too poor and sandy.
Agricultural value: It gives the heaviest yield the second year after sowing and when old develops into cushion-like tufts several inches high. It is a rather good pasture grass for woodland parks where the soil is not sandy. It prefers shaded localities to open fields.
Seed: The commercial supply is collected from wild plants living in woods. The seed is similar to that of Red Fescue, but usually a little larger.
Good pasture makes fat sheep.—Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 3, Sc. II., 16or.
In the Fabian district * * where they are in the habit of irrigating the fields, * *
it is a very singular thing that the water kills all the weeds, while at the same time it nourishes the corn, thus acting in place of the weeding hook.—Pliny, Natural History, 23-7g.