MEADOW FESCUE, TALL FESCUE (Festuca elatior L.) Plate 12; Seed, Plate 26, Fig. 20.
Other Latin name: Festuca pratensis Huds.
Other English names: English Blue Grass, Evergreen Grass, Randall Grass.
Much confusion has resulted from the two Latin names for this grass. Festuca elatior means Tall Fescue, and Festuca pratensis means Meadow Fescue. Seedsmen generally term Tall Fescue Festuca elatior and Meadow Fescue Festuca pratensis, thus supporting the widely spread opinion that Tall Fescue and Meadow Fescue are two botanically distinct plants. This is not the case. They are merely agricultural varieties of one plant, the correct Latin name of which is Festuca elatior L., just as Banner and Abundance are two agricultural varieties of oats, Avena saliva L.
Botanical description: Meadow Fescue is perennial with long, strong roots. It has rather short rootstocks and is therefore tufted but not so much as Orchard Grass. The stems, which are from eighteen to thirty-six inches high, are smooth and rather slender. Most of the leaves are produced by numerous sterile shoots from the rootstocks, the stems carrying only a few. The leaves are dark green, rather long and broad, weak in texture and often overhanging. They are rolled up in the bud, and the young shoots are therefore round and not flattened, as in Orchard Grass, where the young leaves are folded together along the middle line. The flowers are in a panicle, with two branches of different size from each joint. The branches spread only during flowering time; before and after, the panicle is narrow, with erect branches. Brome and other grasses have panicles similar to that of Meadow Fescue. The latter is recognized by the nodding panicle at the top and the branches turned toward one side. The spikelets are oblong and often with a touch of violet. One contains seven or eight flowers, each enclosed within two glumes which are smooth and slightly rounded. When flowering, the stamens and pistil appear at the same time. There is therefore a chance for both self- and cross-fertilization.
Geographical distribution: Meadow Fescue is indigenous to Europe up to the polar circle and in the temperate parts of Asia.