Forage Identification: Tall fescue

Department of Plant Sciences

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea (Schreb.) Darbysh)

Tall fescue is an introduced species from Europe and Asia. It is adapted to humid temperate areas with an annual precipitation of 16 inches or greater. This grass is very winter hardy, but also has good heat tolerance. It tolerates both drought and wet/flooding soils, and has good tolerance for soils with a high percentage of salinity. It prefers soils with a pH of 5.4 to 6.2.


Tall fescue

Growth Habitat:
Cool season, perennial bunch grass. Grass has a tendency to form a very tight sod.

Tall fescue

Plant Characteristics:
Bunch growth habitat but forms sod by rhizomes when mowed or grazed frequently. Leaf blades are flat and have rough margins and a prominent midrib. Blades are dull and ribbed on the upper surface and glossy below.  Leaves are rolled in the whorl. Flowering stems are round and smooth and grow mostly erect. The grass usually grows between 24 and 48 inches tall. The root system is deep, extensive and fibrous.

Tall fescue

Seed Characteristics:
Tannish-brown color, oblong shape. Its seed head is a panicle and the seeds are similar in size and shape to Orchardgrass. Most seeds have a prominent, slender, round and knobbed rachilla. The best time for planting is between March 1st and May 1st or August 1st and September 1st.

Tall fescue seeds

Important Identifying Characteristics:
Thick, wide leaves with prominent veins and the emerging leaves are rolled in the bud. There is no obvious ligule.

Tall fescue seed cluster

Primary Uses:
Hay, pasture and conservation.

Tall Fescue Seeds
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