Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Festuca pratensis
(meadow fescue)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Festuca pratensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • meadow fescue
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • F. pratensis, commonly known as meadow fescue, is a perennial grass native to parts of Eurasia. It has been introduced to temperate regions around the world for use as forage, turf and soil stabilization. Much...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit. An even stand in a disturbed setting, where it is nearly monodominant. Nr Bozeman, Montana, USA. July 2012.
TitleHabit
CaptionFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit. An even stand in a disturbed setting, where it is nearly monodominant. Nr Bozeman, Montana, USA. July 2012.
Copyright©Prof Matt Lavin-2009/Bozeman, Montana, USA - CC BY-SA 2.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit. An even stand in a disturbed setting, where it is nearly monodominant. Nr Bozeman, Montana, USA. July 2012.
HabitFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit. An even stand in a disturbed setting, where it is nearly monodominant. Nr Bozeman, Montana, USA. July 2012.©Prof Matt Lavin-2009/Bozeman, Montana, USA - CC BY-SA 2.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing flowers.
TitleHabit
CaptionFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing flowers.
Copyright©T. Voekler-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing flowers.
HabitFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing flowers.©T. Voekler-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); close view showing flowers.
TitleHabit
CaptionFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); close view showing flowers.
Copyright©T. Voekler-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); close view showing flowers.
HabitFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); close view showing flowers.©T. Voekler-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing anthers - ca.3mm in length.
TitleHabit
CaptionFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing anthers - ca.3mm in length.
Copyright©T. Voekler-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing anthers - ca.3mm in length.
HabitFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); habit, showing anthers - ca.3mm in length.©T. Voekler-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); leaf base.
TitleLeaf base
CaptionFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); leaf base.
Copyright©Kristian Peters-Fabelfroh/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue); leaf base.
Leaf baseFestuca pratensis (meadow fescue); leaf base.©Kristian Peters-Fabelfroh/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Festuca pratensis Huds.

Preferred Common Name

  • meadow fescue

Other Scientific Names

  • Bromus pratense (Huds.) Spreng.
  • Festuca americana (Pers.) F. Dietr.
  • Festuca apennina De Not.
  • Festuca arctica Schur
  • Festuca australis Schur
  • Festuca elatior L.
  • Festuca elatior Linnaeus, misapplied
  • Festuca elatior St.-Yves
  • Festuca elatior var. pratensis (Hudson) A. Gray
  • Festuca glabra Spreng.
  • Festuca heteromalla Pourr.
  • Festuca pluriflora Schult.
  • Festuca poaeoides Michx.
  • Lolium pratense (Hudson) Darbysh.
  • Poa intermedia Koeler
  • Schedenorus pluriflorus (Schult.) H.Scholz.
  • Schedonorus americanus (Pers.) Roem. & Schult.
  • Schedonorus apenninus (de Not.) Tzvelev
  • Schedonorus pratensis (Hudson) Palisot de Beauvois
  • Schedonorus radicans Dumort.
  • Tragus pratensis (Huds.) Panz.

International Common Names

  • English: English bluegrass
  • Spanish: canuela de los prados
  • French: fetuque des pres
  • Chinese: cao dian yang mao
  • Portuguese: festuca-dos-prados

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Wiesen- Schwingel
  • Italy: festuca dei prati
  • Netherlands: Beemdlangbloem
  • Sweden: aengssvingel

EPPO code

  • FESPR (Festuca pratensis)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

F. pratensis, commonly known as meadow fescue, is a perennial grass native to parts of Eurasia. It has been introduced to temperate regions around the world for use as forage, turf and soil stabilization. Much of this translocation occurred in the early 1800s and 1900s. Its use as a forage species outside of Europe declined in much of the 1900s in favour of other forage species. Where introduced outside of its native range the species can be invasive in riparian areas, forests, and grasslands and decrease native biodiversity. It may pose a threat to rare plant species in these ecosystems, for example the endangered mustard species Physaria globosa (Short’s bladderpod) in the USA.   

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Festuca
  •                                 Species: Festuca pratensis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

Festuca pratensis is a perennial grass (Poaceae). The species was first described from England in 1762 by William Hudson. This and several similar species, particularly F. arundinacea, form a group informally called the broadleaf fescues. The generic placement of these species has been a matter of controversy. Hybrids with members of the genus Lolium occur readily, such as with L. perenne. Some authors, including Soreng and Terrell (1997) treat the broadleaf fescues in the genus Schedonorus. Darbyshire (1993), however, felt that the recognition of Schedonorus seemed unwarranted, treating these species in the genus Lolium. Molecular studies have repeatedly confirmed the close relationship with Lolium, e.g. Torrecilla and Catalán (2002). Placement in Lolium has been followed by Weakley (2015). Most recently the name Schedonorus pratensis has been adopted by Flora of North America (Darbyshire, 2007) and by USDA-NRCS (2016) although USDA-ARS (2016) and most authorities outside the USA continue to use Festuca pratensis.       

The name Festuca elatior, described by Linnaeus, was formerly applied to this species, e.g. by Hitchcock and Chase (1951). Due to confusion of the application of the name it has been rejected by the International Botanical Congress (Reveal et al., 1991).

Description

Top of page

The following is adapted from Darbyshire (2007) and GrassWorld (2016).

Caespitose perennial. Culms to 1.3 m, erect to ascending. Leaf sheaths glabrous, auricles glabrous, ligule an eciliate membrane, to 0.5 mm, with falcate auricles; leaf blades 10–25 cm long, 2–7 mm wide. Panicles open, nodding, to 35 cm; branches at the lowest node 1 or 2, shorter branch with 1–2(3) spikelets, longer branch with 2–6(9) spikelets. Spikelets laterally compressed, usually with 4-10 florets (upper florets reduced), 12–16 mm long, 2–5 mm wide. Lower glumes 2.5–4.5 mm; upper glumes 3–5 mm; lemmas 5–8 mm, smooth to slightly scabrous distally, apices unawned, sometimes mucronate with mucros to 0.2 mm. Caryopses 3–4 mm long, 1–1.5 mm wide.

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated

Distribution

Top of page

F. pratensis originated in the Eurosiberia/Southeast Asia area about two million years ago (Inda et al., 2014). It is native to a wide area of Eurasia (Aiken et al., 1997; Darbyshire, 2007; GrassWorld, 2016), but the exact native range is uncertain due to its use as a forage grass. It may have been introduced to Nordic areas (Fjellheim et al., 2006), for example. In Asia it is introduced in China (Shenglian et al., 2006), Japan (Miyawaki and Washitani, 2004), and Taiwan (Wu et al., 2010). It is also marginally introduced in the Pacific Islands in Hawaii (Snow, 2008; Wagner et al., 2012).

The species has also been introduced to the Americas. It occurs in South America in Argentina (GrassWorld, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). It is widely naturalized in North America, particularly north temperate areas of the USA and Canada, from Greenland to Alaska, south to southern California and Georgia (Aiken et al., 1997; Darbyshire, 2007). Some reports from southern states, e.g. by USDA-NRCS (2016), are probably in error. In Australia it is known from five provinces, mainly near the southern and southeastern coasts (AVH, 2016).

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
ArmeniaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
AzerbaijanPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
ChinaPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-GuizhouPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006
-JiangxiPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-JilinPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-QinghaiPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-SichuanPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-TibetPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-YunnanPresentIntroducedShenglian et al., 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
JapanPresentIntroducedOhwi et al., 1965
-HokkaidoPresentIntroducedOhwi et al., 1965Common
-HonshuPresentIntroducedOhwi et al., 1965
-KyushuPresentIntroducedOhwi et al., 1965
-ShikokuPresentIntroducedOhwi et al., 1965
KazakhstanPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
KyrgyzstanPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
PakistanPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
TajikistanPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
TurkmenistanPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlbertaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ManitobaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-OntarioPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-QuebecPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-SaskatchewanPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Yukon TerritoryPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
USAPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-AlabamaAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArkansasAbsent, unreliable recordAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-DelawareAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-FloridaAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-GeorgiaAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced2007Snow, 2008; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-IdahoPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IndianaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IowaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-KansasPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-KentuckyAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-LouisianaAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MainePresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MarylandPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MichiganPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MississippiAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MissouriPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MontanaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-NebraskaAbsent, unreliable recordAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-NevadaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New JerseyAbsent, unreliable recordAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New YorkPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-North CarolinaAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-OhioAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OklahomaAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Rhode IslandAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TennesseeAbsent, unreliable recordUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-TexasPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-UtahPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-VermontPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-WisconsinPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-WyomingPresentIntroducedAiken et al., 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedGrassWorld, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
AustriaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
BelarusPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
BelgiumPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
BulgariaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
DenmarkPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
EstoniaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
Faroe IslandsPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
FinlandPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
FrancePresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
-CorsicaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
GermanyPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
GreecePresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
HungaryPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
IcelandPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
IrelandPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
ItalyPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
LatviaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
LithuaniaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
MaltaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
NetherlandsPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
NorwayPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
PolandPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
RomaniaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
Russian FederationPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
-Central RussiaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
-Northern RussiaPresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
-Russian Far EastPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
-Western SiberiaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016
SpainPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
SwedenPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
SwitzerlandPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
UKPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
UkrainePresentNativeGrassWorld, 2016
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedGrassWorld, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedEuro+Med, 2016
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedEuro+Med, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedEuro+Med, 2016; GrassWorld, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

Much of the spread of F. pratensis occurred in the late 1700s through the early 1900s. It was included by Michaux in his 1803 Flora Boreali-Americana (which he named F. poaeoides) from the Saint Lawrence River (Michaux, 1803). The species was introduced to China in the late 1800s or early 1900s (Shenglian et al., 2006). Introductions to other parts of Asia, including Japan and Taiwan, and Australia probably occurred during the same time period. The date of introduction to Argentina is unknown. While it was used in forage grass trials in Hawaii by the 1930s (Ripperton et al., 1933), it was not reported as established in the State until 2007 (Snow, 2008; Wagner et al., 2012). 

Introductions

Top of page
Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Argentina Europe   Forage (pathway cause) Yes GrassWorld (2016) pasture grass
Canada Europe late 1700s Forage (pathway cause) Yes Darbyshire (2007) pasture grass
China Europe late 1800s Forage (pathway cause) Yes Shenglian et al. (2006) pasture grass
Greenland Europe late 1700s Forage (pathway cause) Yes Darbyshire (2007) pasture grass
Hawaii Europe early 1900s Forage (pathway cause) Yes Ripperton et al. (1933) pasture grass
Japan Europe late 1800s Forage (pathway cause) Yes Shenglian et al. (2006) pasture grass
USA Europe late 1700s Forage (pathway cause) Yes Darbyshire (2007) pasture grass

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

Meadow fescue may have already reached much of its potential range. The species is not currently favoured as a pasture grass outside of Europe. If improved cultivars are developed, it may experience resurgence in popularity, and could become more common in some regions where it is now rare.  

Habitat

Top of page

F. pratensis is primarily a species of pastures and disturbed habitats. In Europe in its natural range it occurs in agricultural fields, but in undisturbed areas it is confined to open habitats including river banks (Fjellheim et al., 2006). In its introduced range the species also mainly occurs in agricultural and other artificial habitats (Darbyshire, 2007; Weakley, 2015). In Japan, Miyawaki and Washitani (2004) report that it occurs in riparian areas. In the USA is can occur in white oak forests (Schulz and Gray, 2013).

Habitat List

Top of page
CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Present, no further details
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details
Riverbanks Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Genetics

Meadow fescue is a diploid with a chromosome number of 2n-14 (Darbyshire, 2007) or occasionally tetraploid (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). Fjellheim et al. (2006) found low levels of intraspecific variation, but found 3 haplotypes with different geographic distributions.

Reproductive Biology

The grass is wind pollinated and reproduces by seed. It is strongly self-incompatible (Lundquist, 1961). Seeds do not generally retain viability in the soil beyond one year and germination in colder environments e.g. at high elevation, may require cold stratification (US Forest Service, 2016). Plants may spread or regenerate from tillers, or sometimes from short rhizomes (US Forest Service, 2016).

Physiology and Phenology

F. pratensis has C3 physiology. It flowers in spring and early summer, from about May to July (Weakley, 2015).

Longevity

F. pretensis is a long-lived perennial. 

Associations

F. pratensis and its relatives form associations with fungal endophytes. These endophytes form an intracellular association in aerial portions of plants. Epichloë uncinata (= Neotyphodium uncinatum) has been identified as the primary endophyte of F. pratensis (Christensen et al., 1993; Bush et al., 1997; Wiewióra et al., 2007; Panka et al., 2011). This endophyte association can have different effects, such as conferring herbivore resistance and drought resistance to the host (Wiewióra et al., 2007). This association can be detrimental to livestock causing fescue toxicosis. In the F. pratensis endophyte association with E. uncinata only loline alkaloids are produced which do not cause fescue toxicosis (Bush et al., 1997).

Environmental Requirements

F. pratensis is adapted to cool climates. In the USA its use as a pasture grass has been restricted mainly to northeastern states with adequate rainfall, south to about northern Oklahoma and Arkansas, and west to eastern portions of the Dakotas, Kansas, and Nebraska (Vinall, 1909). US Forest Service (2016) records that it is tolerant of acid soils but may also occur in calcareous soils.

Climate

Top of page
ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Listronotus bonariensis Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific N
Puccinia coronata Pathogen Leaves/Stems not specific N

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page
The rust Puccinia coronata can cause damage to F. pratensis (Vinall, 1909). Adults and larvae of the weevil Listronotus bonariensis can also be a pest of the species (EPPO, 2016).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

Natural Dispersal

Little data is available on the dispersal mechanisms of F. pratensis. Likely vectors are wind and water, especially movement of seeds in irrigation water (US Forest Service, 2016). 

Vector Transmission

The awned lemmas are also able to attach to animal fur, and dispersal by cattle has been documented (Couvreur et al., 2004). 

Accidental Introduction

US Forest Service (2016) suggests that seeds may be spread in the manure of domestic livestock and by farm machinery.              

Intentional Introduction

F. pratensis has become established widely due to intentional introduction as a pasture grass. It may also be introduced accidentally as a contaminant in seed mixes (Vinall, 1909).

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes Yes Darbyshire, 2007
Forage Yes Yes Darbyshire, 2007
Hitchhiker Yes

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Germplasm Yes Yes Darbyshire, 2007
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes Darbyshire, 2007

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive

Environmental Impact

Top of page

Impact on Habitats

F. pratensis is primarily found where intentionally introduced into pastures. The largest impact on habitats results from conversion of natural areas into pastures, resulting in a dramatic loss of diversity. F. pratensis has been documented as occurring in some natural areas, but these invasions appear to be sporadic. In Japan Miyawaki and Washitani (2004) reports that it occurs in riparian areas. In the USA it can occur in white oak forests (Schulz and Gray, 2013).

Impact on Biodiversity

F. pratensis may impact habitat for some rare species. This impact is probably indirect. Its use as a pasture grass has resulted in large areas of natural grassland and other ecosystems being converted to low diversity, managed fields. F. pratensis has been implicated in threatening the endangered mustard species Physaria globosa (Short’s bladderpod) in the USA (NatureServe, 2016).

Threatened Species

Top of page
Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Physaria globosa (Short's bladderpod)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesKentucky; TennesseeCompetition - monopolizing resourcesNatureServe, 2016

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page

Economic Value

F. pratensis has been valued for centuries as a pasture grass in temperate regions. While other species have become more popular in the last century, it is still valued in some regions, especially because it is more cold tolerant than Festuca arundinacea, although it is not as productive (Aiken et al., 1996; Casler et al, 2008).  

Uses List

Top of page

Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization

Genetic importance

  • Gene source

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page
F. pratensis is very similar to Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue). F. pratensis has glabrous leaf auricles, and smooth to only slightly scabrous lemmas. In contrast, F. arundinacea has ciliate leaf auricles (sometimes with only 1-2 hairs), and lemmas that are usually scabrous or hispidulous (Darbyshire, 2007; Weakley, 2015). 
 
F. pratensis can hybridize with members of the genus Lolium, producing plants with intermediate morphology. These have been called “Festulolium” hybrids.

Prevention and Control

Top of page

Eradication

Invasions of F. pratensis into natural areas, including riparian zones and forests can be successfully eradicated with herbicides. Most populations of the species occur in pastures where intentionally introduced. Techniques for eradication from pastures should focus on a long-term view of desired vegetation, whether it is conversion of the pasture to a different forage species, or to a restored habitat. While there is little data available for control of F. pratensis, techniques should follow those recommended for the control of Festuca arundinacea, e.g. (Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, 2006). A combination of disking and herbicide application, followed by introductions of new plant species can be effective in long-term control of the species.

Chemical Control

Herbicide treatments can be used to control F. pratensis. A variety of herbicide formulations were found to be effective in experiments by Adkins and Barnes (2013), including imazapic, clethodim, glyphosate and suflosulfuron. The best results were obtained by applying herbicide in summer. 

References

Top of page

Adkins JK; Barnes TG, 2013. Herbicide treatment and timing for controlling Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) in cool season grasslands of Central Kentucky, USA. Natural Areas Journal, 33(1):31-38. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3375/043.033.0104

Aiken SG; Dallwitz MJ; McJannet CL; Consaul LL, 1996. Festuca of North America: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. delta-intkey.com/festuca

Aiken SG; Dallwitz MJ; McJannet CL; Consaul LL, 1997. Biodiversity among Festuca (Poaceae) in North America: diagnostic evidence from DELTA and clustering programs, and an INTKEY package for interactive, illustrated identification and information retrieval. Canadian Journal of Botany, 75(9):1527-1555.

AVH, 2016. Australia's Virtual Herbarium. http://avh.ala.org.au/

Bush LP; Wilkinson HH; Schardl CL, 1997. Bioprotective alkaloids of grass-fungal endophyte symbioses. Plant Physiology, 114(1):1-7.

Casler MD; Albrecht K; Lehmkuhler J; Brink G; Combs D, 2008. Forage fescues in the northern USA. Madison, USA: University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, 15 pp. http://www.cias.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/fescuefinalweb.pdf

Christensen MJ; Leuchtmann A; Rowan DD; Tapper BA, 1993. Taxonomy of Acremonium endophytes of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), meadow fescue (F. pratensis) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Mycological Research, 97(9):1083-1092

Couvreur M; Christiaen B; Verheyen K; Hermy M, 2004. Large herbivores as mobile links between isolated nature reserves through adhesive seed dispersal. Applied Vegetation Science, 7(2):229-236.

Darbyshire SJ, 1993. Realignment of Festuca subgenus Schedonorus with the genus Lolium (Poaceae). Novon, 3(3):239-243.

Darbyshire SJ, 2007. Schedonorus, in Flora of North America. New York, USA: Oxford Univ. Press.

EPPO, 2016. PQR - EPPO Plant Quarantine Data Retrieval System, version 5.3.5. Paris, France: OEPP/EPPO. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm

Euro+Med, 2016. Euro+Med PlantBase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. http://www.emplantbase.org/home.html

Fjellheim S; Rognli OA; Fosnes K; Brochmann C, 2006. Phylogeographical history of the widespread meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.) inferred from chloroplast DNA sequences. Journal of Biogeography, 33(8):1470-1478.

GrassWorld, 2016. GrassWorld. http://grassworld.myspecies.info/

Hitchcock AS, 1951. Manual of Grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington DC, USA: USDA.

Inda LA; Sanmartín I; Buerki S; Catalán P, 2014. Mediterranean origin and Miocene-Holocene Old World diversification of meadow fescues and ryegrasses (Festuca subgenus Schedonorus and Lolium). Journal of Biogeography, 41(3):600-614. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jbi.12211/full

Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, 2006. Habitat Management Fact Sheet: Fescue Eradication. Indianapolis, USA: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 4 pp. http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fescue.pdf

Lundqvist A, 1961. Self-incompatability in Festuca pratensis Huds. Hereditas, 47(3-4):542-562.

Michaux A, 1803. Flora boreali-americana: sistens caracteres plantarum quas in America septentrionali. 733 pp.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Miyawaki S; Washitani I, 2004. Invasive alien plant species in riparian areas of Japan: the contribution of agricultural weeds, revegetation species and aquacultural species. Global Environmental Research, 8(1):89-101.

NatureServe, 2016. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life. Version 7. Arlington, Virginia, USA: NatureServe. http://explorer.natureserve.org/index.htm

Ohwi J; Meyer FG; Walker EH, 1965. Flora of Japan (in English). Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution, 1067 pp.

Panka D; Jeske M; Troczynski M, 2011. Effect of Neotyphodium uncinatum endophyte on meadow fescue yielding, health status and ergovaline production in host-plants. Journal of Plant Protection Research, 51(4):362-370. http://versita.metapress.com/link.asp?target=contribution&id=H907H35P04T43041

Reveal JL; Terrell EE; Wiersema JH; Scholz H, 1991. (996) Proposal to Reject Festuca elatior L. with Comments on the Typification of F. pratensis and F. arundinacea (Poaceae). Taxon, 40(1):135-137.

Ripperton JC; Goff RA; Edwards DW; Davis WC, 1933. Range grasses of Hawaii. HAWAII, Agricultural Experiment Station Bull, 65. 58 pp.

Schulz BK; Gray AN, 2013. The new flora of northeastern USA: quantifying introduced plant species occupancy in forest ecosystems. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185(5):3931-3957. http://rd.springer.com/journal/10661

Shenglian L; Xiang C; Aiken SG, 2006. Festuca L. In: Flora of China, 22 [ed. by Zhengyi, W. \Raven, P. H. \Deyuan, H.]. St Loius, Missouri, USA: Science Press, Beijing, and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 225-242.

Snow N, 2008. Notes on grasses (Poaceae) in Hawai'i. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, 100:38-43.

Soreng RJ; Terrell EE, 1997. Taxonomic notes on Schedonorus, a segregate genus from Festuca or Lolium, with a new nothogenus, x Schedololium, and new combinations. Phytologia, 83(2):85-88.

Torrecilla P; Catalán P, 2002. Phylogeny of broad-leaved and fine-leaved Festuca lineages (Poaceae) based on nuclear ITS sequences. Systematic Botany, 27(2):241-251.

US Forest Service, 2016. Schedonorus pratensis. US Forest Service. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/schpra/all.html

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). National Plant Germplasm System. Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2016. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Vinall HN, 1909. Meadow fescue: its culture and uses. Washington DC, USA: US Department of Agriculture, 22 pp.

Wagner WL; Herbst DR; Khan N; Flynn T, 2012. Hawaiian vascular plant updates: a supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii and Hawaii's Ferns and Fern Allies. Version 1.3. 126 pp. http://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/Hawaiian_vascular_plant_updates_1.3.pdf

Weakley AS, 2015. Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Working draft of 2015. Univ. of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU), Chapel Hill. North Carolina, USA: University of North Carolina Herbarium, 1320 pp.

Wiewióra B; Pronczuk M; Ostrowska A; Zurek G, 2007. Endophyte occurrence in breeding strains of meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) cv. 'Pasja'. Phytopathologia Polonica, No.46:5-11. http://www.au.poznan.pl/ptfit

Wu S-H; Aleck Yang TY; Teng Y-C; Chang C-Y; Yang K-Cm; Hsieh C-F, 2010. Insights of the latest naturalized flora of Taiwan: change in the past eight years. Taiwania, 55(2):139-159.

Links to Websites

Top of page
WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

Top of page

20/06/16 Original text by:

Keith Bradley, Consultant, South Carolina, USA 

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map