Plant Assessment Form

Festuca arundinacea

Synonyms: Bromus arundinaceus, Festuca elatior ssp. arundinacea, F. elatior var. arundinacea, Lolium arundinaceum

Common Names: reed fescue; alta fescue; coarse fescue; rescue; reed fescue; tall fescue; Kentucky fescue

Evaluated on: 8/5/04

List committee review date: 27/08/2004

Re-evaluation date:

Evaluator(s)

Brianna Richardson, Project Manager
California Invasive Plant Council
1442-A Walnut Street #462, Berkeley, CA 94709
510.843.3902
brichardson@cal-ipc.org

List commitee members

Joe DiTomaso
John Randall
Alison Stanton
Peter Warner
Cynthia Roye
Jake Sigg

General Comments

Numerous cultivars exist.

Table 2. Criteria, Section, and Overall Scores

Overall Score? Moderate
Alert Status? No Alert
Documentation? 3 out of 5
Score Documentation
1.1 ?Impact on abiotic ecosystem processes U Reviewed Scientific Publication
Impact?
Four-part score UCBC Total Score
B
1.2 ?Impact on plant community C. Minor Reviewed Scientific Publication
1.3 ?Impact on higher trophic levels B. Moderate Reviewed Scientific Publication
1.4 ?Impact on genetic integrity C. Minor/Low Other Published Material
2.1 ?Role of anthropogenic and natural disturbance in establishment B. Moderate Other Published Material
Invasiveness?
Total Points
13 Total Score B
2.2 ?Local rate of spread with no management B. Increases less rapidly Observational
2.3 ?Recent trend in total area infested within state C. Stable Other Published Material
2.4 ?Innate reproductive potential
(see Worksheet A)
A. High Reviewed Scientific Publication
2.5 ?Potential for human-caused dispersal A. High Other Published Material
2.6 ? Potential for natural long-distance dispersal C. Rare Reviewed Scientific Publication
2.7 ?Other regions invaded C. Already invaded Other Published Material
3.1 ?Ecological amplitude/Range
(see Worksheet C)
A. Widespread Other Published Material
Distribution?
Total Score A
3.2 ?Distribution/Peak frequency
(see Worksheet C)
A. High Observational

Table 3. Documentation

Scores are explained in the "Criteria for Categorizing Invasive Non-Native Plants that Threaten Wildlands".

Section 1: Impact
Question 1.1 Impact on abiotic ecosystem processes? U Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify ecosystem processes impacted:

None. No literature described ecosystem processes impacts.


Sources of information:

Question 1.2 Impact on plant community composition,
structure, and interactions?
C Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify type of impact or alteration:

Sources of information:

Fettinger, J.L., C.A. Harper, C.E. Dixon. 2002. Invertebrate availability for upland game birds in tall fescue and native warm-season grass fields. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 77(4): 83-87.
Reynolds, SA, JD Corbin, CM D'Antonio. 2001. The effects of litter and temperature on the germination of native and exotic grasses in a coastal California grassland. Madrono 48(4): 230-235.
Batcher, MS. Element Stewardship Abstract: Festuca arundinacea. The Nature Conservancy.


Question 1.3 Impact on higher trophic levels? B Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify type of impact or alteration:

Can be infected with an endophytic fungus that causes illness in livestock and some wild mammals that graze on it. In the mid-South, conversion of idle cropland to tall fescue pasture has degraded wildlife habitat and has been identified as a primary factor for the decline in northern bobwhite populations. Tall fescue stands make travel for many small wildlife species extremely difficult. Difficulty in travel may decrease game bird feeding rates, cause increases in energy expenditure, and possibly in mortality via stress or predation. The thatch it creates reduces food availability for wildlife. The endophytic fungal toxicosis syndromes make tall fescue poor forage for wildlife. Bobwhites on a tall fescue diet exhibit cloacal swelling and increased mortality. In the British Isles, F. arundinacea is never favored by livestock over other pasture grasses. Many animals in North America feed on F. arundinacea. Tall fescue palatability is poor for elk. Reduces habitat, travel corridors, and forage for wildlife. May be a poisoning problem.


Sources of information:

DiTomaso, J., E. Healy. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Not yet published.
Fettinger, J.L., C.A. Harper, C.E. Dixon. 2002. Invertebrate availability for upland game birds in tall fescue and native warm-season grass fields. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 77(4): 83-87.
Gibson, DJ, JA Newman. 2001. Biological flora of the British Isles: Festuca aurndiancea Schreber. Journal of Ecology 89: 304-324.
Batcher, MS. Element Stewardship Abstract: Festuca arundinacea. The Nature Conservancy.


Question 1.4 Impact on genetic integrity? C Other Published Material

Many native Festucas exist, no documentation discussed hybridization between natives and F. arundinacea. Hybridization may be a problem, unknown.


Sources of information:

CalFlora database. Accessed 8/6/2004: www.calflora.org.


Section 2: Invasiveness
Question 2.1 Role of anthropogenic and natural disturbance
in establishment?
B Observational
Describe role of disturbance:

More frequently invades when an area has been disturbed, or its natural fire cycle has been disrupted. Able to invade undisturbed tall grass prarie in Texas.
Persists long after introduction for forage or cover, absent significant disturbance, and spreads from existing stands without significant disturbance. Persists after natural disturbances, such as fire and flooding. Unclear whether disturbance is necessary or only facultative in California ecosystems.


Sources of information:

Batcher, MS. Element Stewardship Abstract: Festuca arundinacea. The Nature Conservancy.
Warner, PJ. 2004. Observations of populations in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino Counties, 1999-2004.


Question 2.2 Local rate of spread with no management? B Observational
Describe rate of spread:

Will spread more rapidly absent existing cover and competition, but will exploit small pockets within established vegetation, and spread from these pioneering sites. Does not appear to dominate areas already covered by competing vegetation, so spread is likely to be slow in wildland areas.


Sources of information:

Warner, PJ. 2004. Observations in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino Counties. 1999-2004.


Question 2.3 Recent trend in total area infested within state? C Other Published Material
Describe trend:

Volume of reports on distribution in CA suggests this species is widespread throughout, in a diversity of climates and ecological types. Considering that this species continues to be introduced for forage, turfgrass, erosion control, yet is already widely distributed, best estimate is that it's spreading slowly, if at all.


Sources of information:

CalFlora Database. 2004. www.calflora.org
Observational, Peter Warner, Joe DiTomaso, 2004.


Question 2.4 Innate reproductive potential? A Reviewed Scientific Publication
Describe key reproductive characteristics:

Tufts enlarge around the perimeter by short rhizomes and tillers. Flowers May-June. Reproduces by seed. Can reproduce by vegetative rhizome fragments that result from human activities. Single plants do not produce seed the first year. F. arundinacea germinates under thick and thin levels of litter. In Britain, seeds do not last a long time in the soil. Predominantely self-sterile, but cultivars may be self-fertile. Can resprout fom rhizomes after burning. Most seed germinates in the first year, but seeds can remain viable under ideal conditions for at least 19 years. 6 points.


Sources of information:

DiTomaso, J., E. Healy. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Not yet published.
Reynolds, SA, JD Corbin, CM D'Antonio. 2001. The effects of litter and temperature on the germination of native and exotic grasses in a coastal California grassland. Madrono 48(4): 230-235.
Gibson, DJ, JA Newman. 2001. Biological flora of the British Isles: Festuca aurndiancea Schreber. Journal of Ecology 89: 304-324.
Batcher, MS. Element Stewardship Abstract: Festuca arundinacea. The Nature Conservancy.
Fire Effects Information System. Accessed 8/2004. www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants
Observational, Peter Warner, Joe DiTomaso, 2004.


Question 2.5 Potential for human-caused dispersal? A Other Published Material
Identify dispersal mechanisms:

Widely planted for pasture, turf, hay, and erosion control. Can reproduce by vegetative fragments created by human activity. Viable seed can be transported by horse dung. Intentionally planted for a variety of reasons.


Sources of information:

DiTomaso, J., E. Healy. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Not yet published.
Gibson, DJ, JA Newman. 2001. Biological flora of the British Isles: Festuca aurndiancea Schreber. Journal of Ecology 89: 304-324.


Question 2.6 Potential for natural long-distance dispersal? C Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify dispersal mechanisms:

The awn facilitates dispersal by animals. Viable seed can be transported by horse dung. Potential low.


Sources of information:

Gibson, DJ, JA Newman. 2001. Biological flora of the British Isles: Festuca aurndiancea Schreber. Journal of Ecology 89: 304-324.
Observational, Peter Warner, Joe DiTomaso, 2004.


Question 2.7 Other regions invaded? C Other Published Material
Identify other regions:

In the British Isles it grows along riversides and in woods (it is native there). Has naturalized on New Zealand's South Island and replaces native grass on coastal dunes and talus slopes. Invades grazed scrub communities in the Netherlands. Invades grasslands in Illinois. Tall fescue is found in tallgrass prairie, salt desert shrub, and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.). It is also found in pine (Pinus spp.)-Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga mesziesii) forest, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest, juniper (Juniperus spp.)-pinyon (Pinus spp.) woodland, mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus spp.)-oak (Quercus spp.) scrub,and saltbush (Atriplex spp.)-greasewood (Sarcobatus spp.) communities. Invades a number of ecological types, in a number of states and countries, but no information available on whether it is found in these in CA. DiTomoso (unpublished) lists it as only occuring in coastal scrub and grassland, which would mean that it could potentially invade 4 additional habitats listed above, as well as coastal dunes.
CalFlora Database lists over 100 occurrences in California, from a diversity of vegetation types, including coastal and interior grasslands, riparian and marshes, dunes, woodlands.


Sources of information:

Gibson, DJ, JA Newman. 2001. Biological flora of the British Isles: Festuca aurndiancea Schreber. Journal of Ecology 89: 304-324.
Ellis, JL, G Spyreas, CJ Carroll. Non-native plant dominance in Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey.
Fire Effects Information System. Accessed 8/2004. www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants
CalFlora Database. 2004. www.calflora.org
Observational, Peter Warner, Joe DiTomaso, 2004.


Section 3: Distribution
Question 3.1 Ecological amplitude/Range? A Other Published Material

Invasive in coastal scrub, grassland, cismontane woodlands, marshes, dunes throughout California. Inhabits pastures, roadsides, ditches, and other disturbed dry or wet sites. Exists throughout California, except Great Basin and deserts, to 2700 m. Can invade savanna and woodland habitats, and the edges of open marsh and fens. Invades grassland and foothill woodland in Bidwell Park, near Chico. Invades three or more major ecotypes in California.


Sources of information:

DiTomaso, J., E. Healy. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Not yet published.
Batcher, MS. Element Stewardship Abstract: Festuca arundinacea. The Nature Conservancy.
Friends of Bidwell Park website. Accessed 8/2004. www.friendsofbidwellpark.org
CalFlora Database. www.calflora.org


Question 3.2 Distribution/Peak frequency? A Observational
Describe distribution:

Widespread and common species throughout north coast grasslands, especially in moist areaa. Reported from many other ecological types, but no direct observations of extent of sites where this species is present. Present in > 50% of coastal prairie grassland.


Sources of information:

Warner, PJ. 2004. Observations in San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino Counties, 1999-2004.
Observational, Peter Warner, Joe DiTomaso, 2004.


Worksheet A - Innate reproductive potential

Reaches reproductive maturity in 2 years or less Yes
Dense infestations produce >1,000 viable seed per square meter Yes
Populations of this species produce seeds every year. Yes
Seed production sustained over 3 or more months within a population annually No
Seeds remain viable in soil for three or more years Unknown
Viable seed produced with both self-pollination and cross-pollination No
Has quickly spreading vegetative structures (rhizomes, roots, etc.) that may root at nodes Yes
Fragments easily and fragments can become established elsewhere No
Resprouts readily when cut, grazed, or burned Yes
Total points: 6
Total unknowns: 1
Total score: A?

Related traits:

The number of tillers increases when grazed. Gibson, DJ, JA Newman. 2001. Biological flora of the British Isles: Festuca aurndiancea Schreber. Journal of Ecology 89: 304-324. Some cultivars are self-fertile, generally plant is self-sterile.

Worksheet B - Arizona Ecological Types is not included here

Worksheet C - California Ecological Types

(sensu Holland 1986)
Major Ecological Types Minor Ecological Types Code?
Marine Systemsmarine systems
Freshwater and Estuarine lakes, ponds, reservoirs
Aquatic Systemsrivers, streams, canals
estuaries
DunescoastalD, < 5%
desert
interior
Scrub and Chaparralcoastal bluff scrub
coastal scrubC, 5% - 20%
Sonoran desert scrub
Mojavean desert scrub (incl. Joshua tree woodland)
Great Basin scrub
chenopod scrub
montane dwarf scrub
Upper Sonoran subshrub scrub
chaparral
Grasslands, Vernal Pools, Meadows, and other Herb Communitiescoastal prairieA, > 50%
valley and foothill grasslandD, < 5%
Great Basin grasslandD, < 5%
vernal poolD, < 5%
meadow and seepD, < 5%
alkali playa
pebble plain
Bog and Marshbog and fen
marsh and swampD, < 5%
Riparian and Bottomland habitatriparian forest
riparian woodlandD, < 5%
riparian scrub (incl.desert washes)D, < 5%
Woodlandcismontane woodlandD, < 5%
piñon and juniper woodland
Sonoran thorn woodland
Forestbroadleaved upland forest
North Coast coniferous forestD, < 5%
closed cone coniferous forest
lower montane coniferous forest
upper montane coniferous forest
subalpine coniferous forest
Alpine Habitatsalpine boulder and rock field
alpine dwarf scrub
Amplitude (breadth): A
Distribution (highest score): A

Infested Jepson Regions

Click here for a map of Jepson regions

  • CA Floristic Province
  • Cascade Range
  • Central West
  • Great Valley
  • Northwest
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Southwest
  • Modoc Plateau
  • Sierra Nevada East
  • Desert Province
  • Mojave Desert
  • Sonoran Desert