Red Fescue (Festuca rubra L.)
Red Fescue is found in many natural green areas on nearly all types of soils and under widely varying moisture conditions.
Red Fescue is relatively slow growing in the sowing year and has very fine needle like leaves and a high shoot density.
It thrives under a wide range of conditions but is notable for its tolerance to dry, rather poor soil. It is very resistant to frost and drought and it tolerates surface water during the winter to some extent. Shade tolerance is better than for most other species.
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There are three types of Red Fescue for amenity purposes:
1 Slender Creeping Red Fescue
type – rubra trichophylla
2 Chewings Fescue
type – rubra commutata
3 Strong Creeping Red Fescue
type – rubra rubra
Type: Rubra trichophylla
Rubra trichophylla has short rhizomes that facilitate the repair of gaps in the sward, but at a slower rate than rubra rubra. Shoot density is very high enhancing the species’ ability to withstand close mowing.
High salt tolerance makes trichophylla useful in mixtures for roadsides and parks where salt is used on roads and paths during winter. The drought and shade tolerance of trichophylla is higher than for other Red Fescue types and this sub-species thrives well in a mild, coastal climate.
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Type: Rubra commutata
Festuca rubra commutata has no rhizomes (bunch grass) but the highest density of shoots of the three types. When using commutata in mixtures, it is often necessary to add one of the other types of fescue with rhizomes (or Poa pratensis) in order to facilitate the infill and repair of gaps in the sward.
In cold areas, commutata is an important component as it has higher winter hardiness than other fescues. As shoot density is very high, commutata is an integral component of mixtures that requires close mowing, especially for golf greens.
Calliope, results from trials in Finland
Calliope, results from trials in Norway (in Danish)
Carina, results from trials in Norway (in Danish)
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Type: Rubra rubra
Rubra rubra is the most robust and adaptable of the three. By forming strong rhizomes, it is able to close gaps in the grass sward very quickly. It tolerates extreme summer temperatures better than other Red Fescues.
Rubra rubra is faster to establish than trichophylla or commutata and can be used individually or in conjunction with the other types of fescue to ensure a good recuperation of the grass sward.
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