Tufted or rhizomatous perennials. Leaves flat, folded or involute; ligule membranous, sometimes much-reduced. Inflorescence a panicle; spikelets several-flowered, laterally compressed; glumes 2, the lower usually 1-nerved, the upper usually 3-nerved, persistent; lemma 3–13-nerved, rounded dorsally, acute or awned at apex.
Molecular studies (e.g. Catalan et al. 2004) suggest other genera (e.g. Lolium, Psilurus, Vulpia) are nested within Festuca and a broader concept of the genus should be recognised. This amalgamation has not yet been formally adopted and the segregate genera are retained here.
About 180 species, cosmopolitan; c. 12 species (depending on generic and specific concepts) in Australia (5 naturalised), 4 in Victoria.
Catalan, P.; Torrecilla, P.; Lopez Rodriguez, J.A. & Olmstead, R.G. (2004). Phylogeny of the festucoid grasses of subtribe Loliinae and allies (Poeae, Pooideae) inferred from ITS and trn L–F sequences., Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31: 517–541.