The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Fescue

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FESCUE, the popular name of a genus of grasses (Festuca), numbering upward of 80 species. The genus is of wide geographical distribution, but particularly numerous in the temperate regions, where they are among the most important of the pasture and fodder grasses. About 25 species are found in North America, many of them naturalized from Europe. The red fescue (Festuca rubra) serves to bind loose soil, and is also a good hay grass. The tall meadow fescue (F. elatior, var. partensis) is a fibrous-rooted perennial, growing from two to three feet high in low meadows and pastures, where it forms fresh herbage among the earliest of the cultivated grasses. The sheep's fescue (F. ovina) is much smaller. Sheep's fescue exists in many varieties in the northwestern States, especially in the Rocky Mountain region. Some of the varieties attain the height of two or three feet, but for the most part they are rarely more than a foot high, producing a large amount of fine herbage, which is valuable for grazing, especially for sheep. Some of the native varieties are well worthy the attention of the agriculturist. All the forms of F. ovina are “bunch-grasses,” and are devoid of the creeping roots, the presence of which distinguishes the red fescue (F. rubra) from this species. Sheep's fescue is well adapted for cultivation on light, dry soils, especially those which arc shallow and silicious. A tall species is the giant fescue (F. gigantea), which occurs in shady woods and similar situations, from Maine to New York, adventive from Europe.