Festuca pratensis Huds.
Syn.: Festuca elatior L., pro partem
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
A good grazing grass, used to a lesser extent for hay. Valuable for pasture in
permanent grassland; grown in areas suitable for timothy. Unsuitable for short
leys, as establishment is slow. Very palatable and equal to perennial ryegrass
for grazing by dairy cattle on suitable soils. Used in pasture mixtures on
wetlands and for erosion control in humid northern regions (Reed, 1976).
I have few Festuca folk medicinal entries, none for Festuca pratensis
(Duke and Wain, 1981).
Studying 10 cvs each of F. arundinacea and F. pratensis, Kirillov
and Baskakova (1975) found the highest protein content in 'Moscow 62' and
'Kamala 95'. Protein ranged from 1.574.72%, sugar from 1.415%, ascorbic acid
from 7.755.4 mg/100 g.
Loosely tufted perennial, short-lived bunchgrass; culms 312 dm tall, forming
an open turf when grazed, solitary plants forming large tussocks; leaves
narrowly linear, scaberulous along margin, 36 mm broad; panicle up to 20 cm
long, rather 1-sided, contracted, somewhat open only in anthesis, branches
reduced in length, the shortest among the lower branches bearing 12 spikelets;
spikelets green or faintly purple, linear-oblong, up to 15 mm long,
310-flowered; glumes subobtuse, smooth, margins hyaline, the upper one 3.54.5
mm long; ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, the lower lanceolate, 23 mm long;
lemmas oblong-ovate, convex, subobtuse or rounded-subobtuse, margin broadly
membraneous toward summit, smooth, obscurely 5-veined, the midvein not reaching
tip, 57 mm long; palea elliptic-lanceolate, sparsel scabrous on upper
two-thirds of keels, about as long as the lemma; anthers linear, about 3mm
long. Fl. MayJuly. Seeds 507, 150/kg (Reed, 1976).
Reported from the Eurosiberian Center of Diversity, meadow fescue, or cvs
thereof is reported to tolerate disease, extreme drought, frost, fungus, high
pH, limestone, low pH, mine, poor soil, sand, shade, and slope (Duke, 1978).
Selected strains have been developed in Europe and elsewhere for pasture or
hay, and are more leafy and have finer leaves than ordinary commercial types.
The pasture strains are very leafy and are heavy tillering. However, most
varieties developed in Europe are not generally adapted in the United States.
Cultivars, 'Mefon' and 'Ensign', developed in Ontario, are hay-pasture type,
selected for winter hardiness and disease resistance and used in Eastern
Canada. European cultivars include: 'Barbarossa' (Holland), 'Barkas'
(Holland), 'Festina' (Holland), 'Mimer' (Sweden), and 'S-215' (United Kingdom).
Along with 'Ensign', 'Sturdy' (Manitoba), and 'Trader' (Ontario) have been
developed in Canada. Hybrids have been formed with Lolium perrenne.
2n = 14 (Reed, 1976).
Native to northern Europe east to Central Asia and south to Caucasus and Asia
Minor. Introduced to North America from England (Reed, 1976).
Ranging from Boreal Moist to Rain through Subtropical Dry Forest Life Zones,
meadow fescue is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.2 to 13.6 dm
(mean of 49 cases = 7.3), annual temperature of 4.3 to 21.1°C (mean of 49
cases = 9.2), and pH of 4.5 to 8.2 (mean of 45 cases = 6.3) (Duke, 1978, 1979).
Adapted to cool climates as a cool-season turfgrass. Thrives in deep rich
soil, but also grows well on calcareous or sandy soils provided they are moist.
In native areas, found in meadows, forest margins, thin forests (Reed, 1976).
Rather slow to establish, this grass requires a clean seedbed. Propagated from
sown at a rate of 1128 kg/ha. Optimum temperature for germination,
2030°C. In mixtures with clovers sown 913 kg/ha; with alfalfa, 3 kg/ha.
Combines well with clovers, Lotus corniculatus, alfalfa and grasses, as
Phleum pratense and Dactylis glomerata, producing a large
proportion of leafy bottom growth (Reed, 1976).
Remaining green in mild winters, hence valuable for autumn and winter grazing,
meadow fescue is now grown less than in past for pasturage and hay (because of
general superiority of tall fescue). Not so heavy yielding nor persistant as
tall fescue. Should be cut when beginning to flower. In wet years, it may
furnish a second cutting. Surpasses timothy in fodder quality (Reed, 1976).
Yields 34 MT/ha; seed harvest about 300 kg/ha (Reed, 1976). A yield of 11.5
MT/ha is reported at Szaritopuszta, Hungary (Kovacs and Angeli, 1978). Fresh
fodder yields in Romania are ca 3.5 MT/ha. In 17 trials in 6 locations in
Denmark, yields were between 8 and 9 MT/ha in both the first and second year,
the CP ranging from 15.116.1, the CF content from 24.125.3.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
2 to 12 MT/ha, 511 in Czechoslovakia, 89 in Denmark, 12 in Germany, 1112 in
Hungary, 6 in the US, and 25 in USSR. Festula arundinacea, the tall
fescue, has DM of 118, F. pseudovina, 3, F. rubra, 3, and F.
The following fungi have been reported on meadow fescue: Chaetomium
globosum, Claviceps purpurea, Colletotrichum graminicola, Erysiphe graminis,
Fusarium equiseti, Helminthosporium dictyoides, Oidium erysiphoides, Phialea
temulenta, Phyllachora cunninghamii, Puccinia coronata, P. festucae, P.
graminis, P. phlei-pratensis, P. piperi, P. poae-sudeticae, P. rubigo-vera,
Pythium arrenomanes, P. debaryanum, P. irregulare, Sclerotinia borealis,
Selen-phoma donacis var. stomaticola, Septoria tenella, Spermospora
subulata, Tuburcinia Macrospora, Urocystis ulei, and Ustilago striiformis.
It is also parasitized by Cuscuta pentagona. Nematodes isolated from
meadow fescue include the following: Ditylenchus dipsaci, D. radicicola,
Eucephalobus elongatus, Helicotylenchus microbolus, Heterodera avenae, H.
major, H. schachtii, Meloidogyne naasi, Meloidogyne sp. Pratylenchus
penetrans, P. projectus, Tylenctiorhynchus claytoni (Reed, 1976).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Kirillov, Y.I. and Baskakova, L.E. 1975. Chemical composition of varieties of
Festuca pratensis and F. arundinacea. Byull. Vsesoyuznogo Ord.
Lenina... 55:4550. [CAP P. Breed. Abstract 03375 (047)].
- Kovacs, A. and Angeli, A. 1978. A study of the plant production of leys
composed of single grass species. Novenytervelles 27(5):439448.
- Reed, C.F. 1976. Information summaries on 1000 economic plants. Typescripts
submitted to the USDA.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw