Festuca arundinacea (syn., Schedonorus arundinaceus and Lolium arundinaceum) is a species of grass commonly known as tall fescue. It is a cool-season perennial C3 species of bunchgrass native to Europe. It is an important forage grass throughout Europe, and many cultivars have been used in agriculture. It is also an ornamental grass in gardens, and a phytoremediation plant.
The predominant cultivar found in British pastures is S170, an endophyte-free variety. In its native European environment, tall fescue is found in damp grasslands, river banks, and in coastal seashore locations. Its distribution is a factor of climatic, edaphic, or other environmental attributes.
alata fescue, coarse fescue, New Zealand tall fescue, reed fescue, tall fescue, tall meadow fescue...
Native to northern Africa (i.e. northern Algeria, northern Libya, Morocco and Tunisia), the Azores, all of Europe, western Asia (i.e. Afghanistan, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and Pakistan.
Tall fescue is a long-lived perennial bunchgrass species. Photosynthesis occurs throughout the leaves, which form bunches and are thick and wide with prominent veins running parallel the entire length of the blade. The blades have a "toothed" edge which can be felt if fingers are run down the edge of the leaf blade. The underside of the leaf may be shiny. Emerging leaves are rolled in the bud with no prominent ligule. Note that most grasses are folded not rolled, which make this a key idenification feature on tall fescue. The auricles are usually blunt but occasionally may be more clawlike. The culm is round in cross-section. Typically, this species of grass has a long growing season and ranges between 2 to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall in seedhead stage.
Tall fescue spreads through tillering and seed transmission — not by stolons or rhizomes, which are common in many grass species. However, tall fescue may have numerous sterile shoots that extend the width of each bunch. There are approximately 227,000 seeds per pound.
Typically found across the mid-Atlantic and Southeast US, tall fescue performs best in soils with pH values between 5.5 to 7. Growth may occur year-round if conditions are adequate, but typically growth ceases when soil temperature falls below 40 °F (4 °C).
Widely naturalised in the temperate regions of southern Australia (i.e. in eastern New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, many parts of South Australia and south-western Western Australia). Also occasionally naturalised in the southern parts of the Northern Territory and sparingly naturalised in south-eastern Queensland.
Widely naturalised overseas in southern Africa, New Zealand, USA and Canada.
Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) was introduced as a pasture grass, and some cultivars are still widely grown in Australia today. However, it has spread from cultivation and is regarded as a significant environmental weed in Victoria and as an environmental weed in the wider Sydney and Blue Mountains region in New South Wales.
In Victoria it is thought to pose a serious threat to one or more vegetation formations. For example, it is listed as a high threat invasive weed in plains swampy woodland in the Glenelg Plain and Wimmera bioregions. It is also present on several local and regional environmental weed lists in this state (e.g. in Knox Shire, Banyule Shire and the Goulburn Broken Catchment).
In Western Australia it is established on road verges and in disturbed sites from Pemberton to Denmark, and also in Perth, but is regarded as a low priority environmental weed. In South Australia tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is commonly found in disturbed areas near pastures, but is also becoming a weed of wetter habitats. It is also established in several conservation areas in South Australia (i.e. Cudlee Creek Conservation Park, Cobbler Creek Recreation Park and Sturt Gorge Recreation Park).