Festuca prolifera (Piper) Fern.
Arctic Red Fescue
Habitat: Moist alpine rills above treeline [Alpine or subalpine (non-forested, upland)].
Range: Newfoundland south to the mountains of New England.
Aids to Identification: Members of the grass family can be difficult to identify without careful examination of microscopic features and knowledge of general groups of species. This particular species is a loosely tufted perennial with lower leaf sheaths that are reddish-purple when the plant is young. As time progresses, these sheaths disintegrate into loose, reddish fibers. The leaf blades are smooth and 0.7-2 mm wide. This species refers to the characteristic proliferous flowers, i.e., flowers are sometimes replaced by tiny fascicles of leaves. These leaf fascicles, called bulbils, are small plantlets that can form a new plant when dropped to the ground.
Ecological characteristics: Unknown
Synonyms: Also known as Festuca rubra L. ssp. arctica (Hack.) Govor., or in some very old treatments as Festuca richardsonii Hook.
Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 1 town(s) in the following county(ies): Piscataquis.
Dates of documented observations are: 1900, 1978, 1989, 1995, 2000
Reason(s) for rarity: Habitat is naturally scarce.
Conservation considerations: Known populations are small, and subject to the vagaries of small populations like random fluctuations or localized disturbance events.