Fescue-Grass, or Festuca, L. a genus of plants consisting of 39 species; though only 12 or 14 are indigenous, of which the following are the principal:
1. The ovina, or Sheep's Fescue-grass, which is perennial, grows in dry, sandy soils, and flowers in the month of June. This plant is eaten by cows, horses, goats, and especially by sheep, which are very partial to it, and soon become fat from its use.
2. The rubra, Creeping or Purple Fescue-grass, which is perennial, grows on elevated heaths and dry barren pastures, and flowers in the month of June. This grass is of great value in the fattening of cattle, as its succulent leaves, which continue to vegetate during the whole summer, at all times furnish abundance of wholesome food. It also possesses the advantage of retaining its verdure throughout the winter, when almost every Other vegetable is decayed.
3. The duriuscula, or Hard Fes-cue-grass, which is also perennial, grows as well in dry places as in low and flat meadows; and flowers in the month of June. It has not hitherto been cultivated, though it claims the attention of the intelligent farmer; for it frequently attains the height of three or four feet, shoots forth very early in the spring, is very luxuriant, and affords a wholesome and grateful food to all kinds of cattle.
4. The elatior, or Tall Fescue-grass, which grows in boggy meadows, and at the sides of wetditches, where it often attains the height of four or five feet. It is perennial, flowers in the month of June or July (sometimes twice in the year), and makes excellent pasture, but requires a rich soil. - It is eaten by horses, cows, sheep, and goat6.
There is a variety of this grass, called by Mr. Curtis the Festuca pratensis, or meadow fescue-grass, which will thrive not only in very wet, but also in dry soils. This variety possesses a property, on account of which it deserves to be more generally cultivated, namely, mat of producing abundance of seeds, which speedily grow, and are easily collected. It bears a close resemblance to ray-grass, though it is in many respects greatly superior to the latter, at least for the purpose of making and improving meadows; as it is perennial, larger, more productive of foliage, and very hardy.
5. The fluitans, or Flote-fescue grass, which is common in wet ditches, ponds, and marshy places ; it flowers from June to September. This plant is remarkable for its small but very sweet and nutritious seeds : they are collected in several parts of Germany and Poland, under the name of manna seeds ; and used in soups, gruels and puddings, both for their excellent aliment, and agreeable flavour. When ground into meal, the seeds may be converted into bread, which is little inferior to that made of wheat. The bran, separated in preparing the meal, is given to horses troubled with worms ; but no water should be allowed these animals for several hours afterwards. Beside the useful purposes before mentioned, the flote-fescue is a valuable grass for cattle ; being so remarkably grateful, especially to horses and hogs, that they will endanger their lives in obtaining it; but as it grows only in waters which have a miry bottom, it cannot be cultivated.—. The Cottenham and Chedder cheese, in a great measure, derive their celebrity from this grass.
6. The myurus, or Wall Fescue-grass, or Capons-tail grass, which grows on walls, dry barren places, and road sides ; it produces violet stalks from 16 to 24 inches high, and affords a sweet, nourishing pasture: hence it might be cultivated with advantage, on the poorest soil where few other grasses will thrive.