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Tall Fescue

Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire

Tall Fescue Tall Fescue
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service


Commodities Affected:
Forestry and Natural Areas



Tall fescue invades native grasslands, savannas, woodlands and other high-light natural habitats. In the Midwest, many thousands of acres of native prairie have been seeded with tall fescue for well meaning but misguided conservation purposes. Some varieties of tall fescue, including Kentucky 31, harbor a mutualistic fungal endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum) that gives it a competitive advantage over some plants, including legumes. As a result, communities dominated by tall fescue are often low in plant species richness. In addition, alkaloids produced by endophyte-infected tall fescue may be toxic to small mammals and of low palatability to ungulates (such as cattle, deer and elk). Many ground-nesting birds, including Bobwhite quail, are unable to use tall fescue fields as foraging or nesting habitat because of a lack of habitat structure and vegetation composition.  Note: Plant with caution – plant only for high flow grassy waterways and to stabilize slopes steeper than 4:1; avoid using for forage but use low-endophyte forms whenever used.



A scientific consensus for the distribution of tall fescue in Indiana has been agreed upon.  Tall fescue can be found in all 92 counties in Indiana.