Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Hard Fescue - Festuca trachyphylla   (Hackel) Krajina
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Section 5 » Family Poaceae
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Author(Hackel) Krajina
DistributionMostly the Mountains and upper Piedmont; disjunct to the Outer Banks of Carteret County. A 1914 specimen from Chapel Hill, Orange County, was from a lawn sown 2 years prior.

Native of Europe; in N.A. northern parts south to NC, NM, CA.
AbundanceRare to uncommon, except very rare on the Outer Banks.
HabitatSteep rocky slopes, rock outcrops, roadsides, sandy shore of brackish marsh.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-June.
IdentificationHard Fescue is perennial and therefore has 3 stamens. Leaves are a maximum of 3 mm wide and are often involute, thus rather like F. rubra. From the latter it differs in being definitely tufted and lacking rhizomes (vs. loosely tufted and often rhizomatous) and the basal sheaths are essentially persistent (vs. disintegrating into fibers).
Taxonomic CommentsBromus, Festuca, and Poa all can look quite similar to beginners (and even veterans!), because they all have multi-flowered spikelets. Generally speaking, Bromus has much the largest spikelets, and most Poa have a tuft of wispy hairs at the base of each floret (lacking in the other genera). Bromus and Festuca have obvious awns on the florets (absent in Poa). With field experience and careful use of keys, one can eventually handle these genera.

Our annual species of Festuca are by some authors placed in the genus Vulpia; they have a single stamen (vs. perennial and with 3 stamens).
Other Common Name(s)Sheep Fescue (also shared with F. ovina).
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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