Perennials, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Basal sheaths fibrous, old leaves persistent at base of plant, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves , Leaves mostly basal, below middle of stem, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly closed, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath smooth, glabrous, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades very narrow or filiform, less than 2 mm wide, Leaf blade margins folded, involute, or conduplicate, Leaf blades mostly glabrous, Leaf blades more or less hairy, Ligule present, Ligule a fringed, ciliate, or lobed membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence a contracted panicle, narrowly paniculate, branches appressed or ascending, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets laterally compressed, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 2 florets, Spikelets with 3-7 florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes, glumes persistent, Spikelets disarticulating beneath or between the florets, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes equal or subequal, Glumes shorter than adjacent lemma, Glumes 1 nerved, Glumes 3 nerved, Lemmas thin, chartaceous, hyaline, cartilaginous, or membranous, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma mucronate, very shortly beaked or awned, less than 1-2 mm, Lemma distinctly awned, more than 2-3 mm, Lemma with 1 awn, Lemma awn less than 1 cm long, Lemma awned from tip, Lemma awns straight or curved to base, Lemma margins thin, lying flat, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea about equal to lemma, Palea longer than lemma, Palea 2 nerved or 2 keeled, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2- branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear.
Plant usually densely tufted; shoots intravaginal. Culms (5–)8–30(–55) cm tall; node 1. Leaf sheaths glabrous; auricles present as erect swellings; leaf blades conduplicate, (1.5–)2–10(–20) cm × 0.5–0.8 mm, veins (3–)5–7; adaxial to abaxial sclerenchyma strands absent, abaxial sclerenchyma in 5–7 narrow discrete strands; ligule ca. 0.2 mm, margin ciliate. Panicle contracted, spikelike, 1.5–4(–5.5) cm; branches 0.2–1.5 cm, scabrid, 1–2 at lowest node. Spikelets 4–8 mm, usually brown or brownish purple, occasionally greenish; florets 2–6; glumes smooth, margins glabrous, apex acute or subobtuse; lower glume narrowly lanceolate, (1.2–)1.5–2.5(–3.3) mm; upper glume oblong, (2.4–)3–4.5 mm; rachilla internodes 0.8–1 mm; lemmas 3–4.5(–5.2) mm, scabrid; awns 0.8–1.5 mm; palea keels smooth or minutely scaberulous. Anthers (0.5–)0.7–1.1(–1.3) mm. Ovary apex glabrous. Fl. and fr. Jul–Sep. 2n = 42.
Festuca brevifolia R. Brown, Chloris Melvilliana 31. 1823, not Muhlenberg (1817); F. jouldosensis D. M. Chang; F. ovina subsp. brachyphylla (Schultes & J. H. Schultes) Piper; F. ovina var. brachyphylla (Schultes & J. H. Schultes) Hitchcock.
Type collection for Festuca brevifolia Muhl.
Catalog Number: US 1535782
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): Collector unknown
Locality: Delaware / Georgia / New York, United States, North America
Type collection: Muhlenberg, H. L. 1817. Descript. Gram. 167.