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Red Fescue (Festuca rubra L.)

Also known as creeping red fescue.

Different authors have recognized numerous different subspecies, and they do not necessarily agree. POWO, however, does not currently recognize any sub-taxa of this species. If recognizing subspecies, ssp. rubra is the most widely-distributed in North America, and FNA writes that this species has been misunderstood, confounded, and lumped with other taxa. We do not attempt to resolve any of this uncertainty but we simply note that it exists.

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A grass with circumboreal distribution, native to the eastern and western portions of North America but introduced in the interior.

Range - Expand

Native or Not Present
Native or Expanded
Expanded or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.

This species has a broad native range across the northern hemisphere, and it is highly variable. There is considerable uncertainty both about this species' taxonomy and the native vs. introduced status of various populations of it. It is sometimes planted intentionally as a turfgrass, and can escape cultivation. It is also sometimes planted in the wild as erosion control. Its ability to colonize roadsides and abandoned agriculture has likely aided its establishment in new regions. In the US, it was likely originally native only to the coasts and areas near them, particularly to areas with rocky shorelines. New populations are largely from Eurasian populations.