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There are several cultivars of this grass that vary in their leaf width, overall size, and color of foliage. Some cultivars are marketed as a source of forage, while other cultivars are used to create sod. However, the sod that this Eurasian grass creates is rather coarse and uneven. Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis) is very similar in appearance to another Eurasian species, Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea). This latter species was considered a variety of Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis) in the past, rather than a distinct species. Tall Fescue has 4-5 lemmas per spikelet and its lemmas are 7-10 mm. in length. In contrast, Meadow Fescue has 5-11 lemmas per spikelet and its lemmas are 6-8 mm. in length. Other Fescue grasses (Festuca spp.) in Illinois have more narrow leaf blades (3 mm. or less across) or they have shorter lemmas (5 mm. long or less). Unlike Meadow Fescue, some of these species have conspicuous awns. Other scientific names that refer to Meadow Fescue include Festuca elatior, Schedonorus pratensis, and Lolium pratensis. The recent taxonomic history of this grass has been unstable.


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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