Plate 11; Seed, Plate 26, Fig. 18.
Other English name: Creeping Fescue.
Botanical description: Red Fescue is perennial with long, creeping, underground rootstocks, from the joints of which the overground stems and shoots arise. For this reason no real tufts are formed, but more or less extended mats with scattered stems develop. The latter are from eighteen to thirty-six inches high, smooth and round. Secondary shoots arise from buds within the sheaths of old basal leaves. When developing, the shoots break through the sheaths at their base, tearing them into strips. The ragged brown scales and threads, which are always present at the base of the stems and shoots of Red Fescue, represent the remnants of the sheaths. Red Fescue can easily be distinguished from Sheep's Fescue by these tattered sheaths. The leaves are rolled up in the bud, as in Sheep's Fescue; but while in the latter all the leaves are permanently rolled up, in Red Fescue only the basal ones persist in that condition, the stem leaves being flat when developed except in very dry, hot weather. The flowers are in a panicle like that of Sheep's Fescue, although as a rule it is larger and often a little nodding. The spike-lets, each of which contains from four to six flowers, are variously coloured but often reddish-brown - hence the name Red Fescue. The outer glume of the flower has an awn, which is generally longer than in Sheep's Fescue.
Geographical distribution: It is distributed about the same as Sheep's Fescue.
Habitat: Red Fescue grows naturally in meadows and pastures, along seashores and on mountains, and in open fields as well as in woods.
Cultural conditions: It is a little more particular about the soil than is Sheep's Fescue; it does not thrive in extremely dry or too compact land, or where it cannot develop its creeping root system. It does best in loose, sandy or gravelly soil, when sufficient moisture is available. It is fairly resistant to drought, although not in the same degree as is Sheep's Fescue, and it stands severe cold without injury. Its creeping root system being superficial, it is able to develop in shallow soil.
Plate 11. RED FESCUE ( Festuca rubra 4.).
Habits of growth: Red Fescue does not start so early in spring as does Sheep's Fescue. Its nutritive value is highest at flowering time, as the basal leaves dry up or get hard and unpalatable soon after that. It recovers quickly after being cut or pastured and develops numerous new leaves from the underground rootstocks. For this reason it makes a fairly good bottom grass in hay mixtures.
Agricultural value: Although its feeding value is rather low, Red Fescue has some qualities that make it especially fitted for pastures and lawns. It stands tramping and close cutting well and develops firm and lasting mats of tough sod which serve as soil binders on sandy or gravelly land. Dwarf varieties of extra fine texture are cultivated and the seed saved for lawns.
Seed: The seed of Red Fescue is commonly gathered from wild plants. It is straw-coloured, often with a red or violet tint, and is generally a little longer than Sheep's Fescue seed. It weighs from ten to fifteen pounds per bushel.
Here's too small a pasture for such store of muttons. - Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I, Sc. I., 1591.
The seed is long buried and hidden in the earth; little by little it comes to maturity. But if it bear an ear before its stem is knit, it is imperfect, and is only a plant of the garden of Adonis. - Epictetus Maxims, No. 369, (1st century A.D.).
Who soweth in rain, he shall reap it with tears, Who soweth in harms, he is ever in fears: Who soweth ill seed, or defraudeth his land, Hath eye-sore abroad, with a corsie at hand.
- Thomas Tusser, Five Hundreth Pointes of Husbandrie, 1557-
There is naught which earth displays with intent to deceive, but in clear and simple language stamped with the seal of truth she informs us what she can and cannot do. Thus it has ever seemed to me that earth is the best discoverer of true honesty, in that she offers all her stores of knowledge in a shape accessible to the learner, so that he who runs may read, Here it is not open to the sluggard, as in other arts, to put forward the plea of ignorance or lack of knowledge, for all men know that earth, if kindly treated, will repay in kind. No! there is no witness against a coward soul that of husbandry; since no man ever yet persuaded himself that he could live without the stall' <>l life. He therefore that is unskilled in other money-making arts and will nut dig, shows plainly he is minded to make his living by picking and stealing, or by begging alms, or else he writes.- himself down a very fool. - Xenophon, The Economist, 434-355 B.C.