USDA PLANTS Symbol: FEAR3
Tall fescue, also called Kentucky 31 fescue, is a rhizomatus, cool season grass that invades open areas throughout the United States. This tall grass (up to 6 ft. [1.8 m]) remains green in winter and spring. The moderately stout stem is unbranched with 1-3 swollen, light green nodes near the base. Leaves are mostly basal, flat, 4 to 18 in. (10.2-45.7 cm) long with whitish to yellow-green, flared collars. The midvein is not noticeable. Flowers occur in loose panicles that are 4-12 in. (10.2-30.5 cm) long. Tall fescue invades a variety of open habitats including fields, forest margins, roadsides, forest openings and savannas. It spreads mainly through rhizomes and can form extensive colonies that compete with and displace native vegetation. It is frequently infected with a endophytic fungus that can causes illness in livestock and some wild animals. Tall fescue is native to Europe and was first introduced into the United States in the early to mid 1800s. The ecotype, Kentucky 31, was discovered in the 1930s and widely planted for livestock forage. Tall fescue has been widely planted for turf, forage and erosion control.