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Intergeneric hybrid Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros in
Italy
a

a

Nicola M.G. Ardenghi , Gilberto Parolo & Bruno Foggi

b

a

Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell'Ambiente dell' Università , Via S. Epifanio 14,
I-27100 , Pavia , Italy E-mail:
b

Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica dell' Università , Via G. La Pira, 4, I-50121 ,
Firenze , Italy E-mail:
Published online: 14 Apr 2013.

To cite this article: Nicola M.G. Ardenghi , Gilberto Parolo & Bruno Foggi (2011) Intergeneric hybrid Festuca rubra × Vulpia
myuros in Italy, Webbia: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Geography, 66:1, 77-84, DOI: 10.1080/00837792.2011.10670887
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00837792.2011.10670887

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Webbia 66(1): 77-84. 2011

Intergeneric hybrid Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros in Italy

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Nicola M.G. Ardenghi1, Gilberto Parolo1, Bruno Foggi2
1

Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente dell’ Università
Via S. Epifanio 14, I-27100 Pavia, Italy
(sahfen@hotmail.com) (gilberto.parolo@unipv.it)

2

Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica dell’ Università
Via G. La Pira, 4. I-50121 Firenze, Italy
(bruno.foggi@unifi.it)

Accepted 16 December 2010
L’ibrido intergenerico Festuca rubra x Vulpia myuros in Italia — Viene segnalata la presenza di un ibrido tra Festuca rubra
L. e Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel. (nothogenus xFestulpia) nell’Italia settentrionale. Si tratta della segnalazione più meridionale di questo ibrido e la prima per la Flora d’Italia. Il materiale raccolto è caratterizzato da sterilità e caratteristiche
intermedie tra le specie parentali, sia morfologiche che anatomiche; tra queste, nel presente caso, la sezione trasversale
della lamina fogliare risulta elemento diagnostico innovativo. Non risultano evidenti differenze biometriche tra il materiale italiano e quello riportato in letteratura.
Key words: Festuca rubra, ×Festulpia, hybridization, Italy, leaf section, Vulpia myuros.

Within subtribe Loliinae Dumort. (Poeae, Poaceae), spontaneous and artificial intergeneric crosses are
well documented: between Schedonorus P. Beauv. and
Lolium L. (Hackel, 1882; Lewis, 1975; Stace, 1997;
Conert, 1996), between Drymochloa sylvatica (Poll.)
Holub and Festuca rubra L. (Conert, 1996 sub F. ×
haussknechtii Torges) and finally Vulpia C.C. Gmel.
(sect. Vulpia, Monachne Dumort. and Loretia (Duval-Jouve) Boiss.) and Festuca L. (sect. Aulaxyper Dumort.). According to Stace & Cotton (1974), Willis
(1975), Barker & Stace (1984), Ainscough, Barker &
Stace (1986), and Stace (1997), Festuca and Vulpia
intercross especially where their distribution ranges
overlay. Distribution of these hybrids is well documented only for few European Countries: Great Britain (Barker & Stace, 1984; Ainscough, Barker & Stace 1986; Wurzell, 1988; Evans, 1989; Stace, 1997),
Netherlands (Meijden van der, 1996) and more recently for Czech Republic (Krahulec & Nesvadbová,
2004). However, the only of intergeneric hybrid

in the Loliinae Dumort. tribe reported for Italy is
×Schedololium Soreng & Terrell (Pignatti, 1982 sub:
×Festulolium adscendens (Retz.) Asch. & Graebner).
In 2009, we collected in SW Lombardy (N-Italy)
a hybrid between Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra and
Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C.Gmel. (nothogenus ×Festulpia Meld. ex Stace & R. Cotton); this specimen is
the southernmost known for Europe and the first
one for Italy. A detailed description of its characters
is given below, with particular attention to the leaf
section anatomy, which represents, in our case, a new
diagnostic feature. In the surroundings, specimens of
Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra and Vulpia myuros (L.)
C.C. Gmel. were collected for comparison.
Identity of the hybrid
The specimen (Fig. 1) apparently resembles a typical Festuca rubra subsp. rubra, but a careful analysis of

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N.M.G. Ardenghi, G. Parolo, B. Foggi

Fig. 1 – Photo of the Italian hybrid Festuca rubra subsp. rubra × Vulpia myuros (PAV).

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Intergeneric hybrid Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros in Italy

a series of characters, morphological and anatomical,
shows its hybrid origin with Vulpia myuros: (1) the uppermost leaf sheath encloses the base of the panicles
(Vulpia-like); (2) leaf section is probably the best character to identify this specimen as a hybrid (intermediate
between Festuca and Vulpia): it has not the typical Vshape of Festuca rubra subsp. rubra with almost straight
sides, but it is more rounded, with arching sides like
Vulpia leaf sections (Fig. 2); (3) the plant has very few
rizhomes shorter than in usual Festuca rubra subsp. rubra present in our area. Additionally, ribs on adaxial
face are very narrow and form obtuse-straight angles
between each rib (in Festuca rubra subsp. rubra they are
almost acute); adaxial face is also covered by long hairs
(Vulpia-like) (Fig. 2). Section can erroneously resemble
that of Festuca heteromalla Pourr., but it is narrower

and shorter, with fewer ribs and vascular veins (Foggi
& al., 2011, in prep.); moreover, bulliform cells are absent in the upper epidermal layer; (4) inflorescence is
very contracted, with fewer and shorter branches than
in Festuca (Vulpia-like); (5) upper glume is not longer
than 2 times the lower glume length (Festuca-like); (6)
awn of the lemma is relatively short (Festuca-like); (7)
spikelets are not well developed and have very few florets (Fig. 3); anthers, when the specimen has been collected, were not exposed. Additionally, their aspect is
different from that of the nearby Festuca rubra subsp.
rubra’s ones: they are thinner and paler, almost hyaline
and empty. This character indicates the sterile condition typical of the ×Festulpia hybrids. A summary of
the diagnostic combination of characters used to identify the hybrid is reported in Table I.

Fig. 2 – Transversal leaf sections of a-b) Festuca rubra subsp. rubra (Arena Po, Pavia, Italy); c) Festuca rubra
subsp. rubra × Vulpia myuros (Arena Po, Pavia, Italy); d) Vulpia myuros (Arena Po, Pavia) (drawing by N.
Ardenghi).

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N.M.G. Ardenghi, G. Parolo, B. Foggi

Table I – Summary of the diagnostic combination of characters used to identify the hybrid (×Festulpia characters are
highlighted in bold).

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Festuca rubra subsp. rubra

Vulpia myuros

Intermediate characters
in Festulpia specimen

Rhizomes long and abundant

Rhizomes absent

Uppermost leaf sheath not enveloping
panicle base
Leaf section polygonal-V shaped, keel ±
evident

Uppermost leaf sheath usually envel–
oping panicle base
Leaf section near rounded shaped, with- Leaf section polygonal-rounded, keel
out a developed keel
± developed

Adaxial leaf face with short hairs

Adaxial leaf face with long hairs

Sinuses between ribs forming almost
acute angles
Inflorescence from contracted to open,
branches relatively long
Upper glume less than 2 times the
lower glume length

Sinuses between ribs rounded, forming obtuse-straight angles
Inflorescence very contracted, almost
linear, branches relatively short
Upper glume more than 2 times the lower glume length

Awn 0.7-3 mm long

Awn 5-15 mm long

Rhizomes few and short







Species involved in the hybridization

Fig. 3 – Spikelet of
Festuca rubra subsp.
rubra × Vulpia myuros (Arena Po, Pavia, Italy) (drawing
by N. Ardenghi).

There are no doubts about the parental species
identity. Results from floristic researches conducted
in the area surrounding the ×Festulpia site, indicate
that Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel. is a common
species, usually found in disturbed sites (road edges,
sidewalks, uncultivated land). Less frequent is the
congeneric V. ciliata Dumort., recorded in similar
habitats, but always on sandy soil. No other Vulpia
species has been found by the authors. The glabrous
lemmas of the hybrid exclude the involving of V.
ciliata, which differs from V. myuros principally by
the lemma’s pubescent-ciliate margins and midvein
(Barkworth & al., 2007; Lauber & Wagner, 2007).
In the same area, species belonging to the group of
Festuca rubra L. are quite common: F. rubra L. subsp.
rubra, F. rubra L. subsp. juncea (Hack.) K. Richt. and
F. heteromalla Pourr. are those recorded, the first two
being the most widespread. As locally observed by the
Authors, each species has been introduced, principally planted for lawns and as turf grass in vineyards and
public flower beds, from where they usually escape,
establishing themselves in the nearby disturbed sites,
as road edges, slopes and ditches. F. rubra subsp. rubra certainly is the second parent and it is possible to
exclude both F. heteromalla, which has culm blades
usually flat and a wider leaf section (0.8-1.5 mm),

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Intergeneric hybrid Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros in Italy

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Table II – Comparison between the biometrical values of our ×Festulpia, Festuca rubra subsp. rubra and Vulpia myuros
specimens. Literature data for F. rubra subsp. rubra and Vulpia myuros refer respectively to Foggi et al. (2010), Kerguélen & Plonka (1989), Portal (1999), and Pignatti (1982), Stace (1997), Boulos (2005), Lauber & Wagner (2007),
Barkworth et al. (2007). In Barker & Stace (1984), the species belonging to the Festuca rubra L. group involved in the
hybridization is F. heteromalla Pourr. (= F. diffusa Dum.), while in Stace (1997) and Ainscough, Barker & Stace (1986),
the subspecies of F. rubra supposed to be the parental taxa are subsp. rubra, subsp. commutata (Gaudin) Markr.-Dann.
(= F. nigrescens Lam.), subsp. litoralis (G. Meyer) Auquier.

our specimen (mean
± s.d.)
Krahulec & Nesvadbová (2007) (mean)
Stace (1997);
Ainscough, Barker
& Stace (1986)
(intervals)
Barker & Stace
(1984) (intervals)

Panicle
length (cm)

Spikelet
Lower glume Upper glume
Lemma
No. of florets
length (mm)
length (mm) length (mm) length (mm)
×Festulpia

Awn length
(mm)

8.62 ± 4.15

7.29 ± 1.45

1.50 ± 0.53

3.26 ± 0.57

4.68 ± 0.65

5.32 ± 0.52

1.79 ± 0.44

12.55

8.64

2.83

2.48

4.17

4.81

3.17







1.5-3.3

3.2-5

4.5-6.2

3.0-6.0







1.3-2.2

3.2-4.3

4.7-6.4

1.8-3.7

Festuca rubra subsp. rubra
our specimens
(mean)
Literature data
(intervals)

12.82

10.57

5.64

3.16

4.73

5.80

1.89

6-16

6-10.5

4-6

2.5-3.5

3-5.1

3.7-7.2

0.7-3

Vulpia myuros
our specimens
(mean)
Literature data
(intervals)

14.52

8.90

5.1

1.24

3.86

5.7

10.5

5-35

6-11

3-7

0.4-2.5

2.5-6.5

4.5-7.5

5-15

with a greater number of ribs (5-7) and vascular veins
(7-11), and F. rubra subsp. juncea, which has unequal
fascicles of schlerenchyma, and leaf blades usually
rigid and ± falcated (Foggi & al., 2010).
As shown in Table II, there are no evident biometrical differences between the Italian ×Festulpia
specimen and the descriptions in Krahulec & Nesvadbová (2007), Stace (1997) and Barker & Stace
(1984), with a few exceptions: panicles and awns
are shorter and florets are fewer. Furthermore, as reported in Krahulec & Nesvadbová (2007), culms are
covered by leaf sheath up to the panicle, the inflorescence structure is intermediate between Festuca and
Vulpia, and spikelets are probably sterile. However,
an important difference is represented by the leaf
anatomy, not intermediate between the two genera,

but closer to Festuca in the Czech specimen (Krahulec & Nesvadbová, 2007: Fig. 2): V-shaped, ribs large
and forming acute angles between each rib, adaxial
face almost glabrous. On the contrary, in ours the leaf
section resembles Vulpia myuros: more rounded than
polygonal and the ribs very pronunced and narrow,
separated by an evident rounded sinus, which forms
an obtuse-straight angle.
Identification and description of the specimen
The specimen, following our morpho-anatomical
analysis, could be ascribed to the intergeneric hybrid
Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra × Vulpia myuros (L.)
C.C.Gmel.

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82

N.M.G. Ardenghi, G. Parolo, B. Foggi

Plant: loosely rhizomatous, rhizome few and short, just
3-4 cm long, pale green.
Culms: 33-42 cm high, erect, geniculate at the base, especially below the first node, forming a 45-90° angle with
the culm axis, glabrous, smooth, slightly grooved; 2 noticeable black nodes in the basal third, 0.7-2 mm long.
Innovations: intra- and extravaginal.
Sheaths: innovations ones glabrous, from straw-colored
to dark reddish, usually with paler and thick stripes, in
older vegetative shoots shredding into fibers; degree of
fusing not determined, since this character has to be observed only on fresh material. Upper culm sheaths enveloping the panicle base.
Ligule: 0.2-0.5 mm, trucated at the apex, with dense and
short spreading hairs.
Blade: 1/3 of the culm length, few reaching 1/2, plicated,
flexible, smooth and glabrous.
Transverse leaf section: 0.9-1 mm wide, more rounded
than polygonal, with arching sides and ± evident keel; 7
vascular veins, sclerenchyma organized in 5(6) fascicles
opposite to the veins (sometimes lacking near the marginal veins), small and equal; 5 ribs, very pronunced,
narrow, each one separated by an evident rounded sinus, which forms an obtuse-straight angle; hairs are very

dense and prominent, distributed principally on the upper half of the section, the longest about equalling the
ribs length; epidermal cells relatively small.
Panicle: (3.8)6.2-12(15.2) cm long, 0.4-0.7 cm wide, very
contracted, linear; branches about 3, 15-25 mm long,
antrorsely scabrous, mostly erect, the lowest one bearing
3-4 spikelets; basal part of the rachis enclosed by the uppermost sheaths.
Spikelets: (5.2)6-8(10) mm, (0)1-2-flowered, dull green.
Glumes: unequal, ovate-lanceolate, acute, glabrous, with
minute cilia on the upper third of the margin, middle
nerve scabrous in the upper half, hyaline margin very
narrow, ca. 0.1 mm wide, dull green, purplish at the
apex; lower glume 2.8-3.5 mm, 1-nerved; upper glume
4-4.9(6.2) mm, 3-nerved.
Lemma: 5-6(6.2) mm, 5-nerved, ovate-lanceolate, acute,
glabrous and smooth, minutely scabrid at the tip, green,
purplish at the apex, hyaline margin narrow, ca. 0.1 mm
wide; awn (1)1.5-2(2.3) mm, scabrid.
Palea: elliptic-lanceolate, acute, ca. 4 mm, short-ciliated at
the apex, which is minutely bifid.
Anthers: ca. 1.2-1.5 mm, not exposed, very thin, translucent-yellowish, empty.

Fig. 4. – Growing sites of Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros currently known for Europe. United Kingdom: Mawddach
Crescent, Arthog, Merioneth; Stockport Station, S. Lancashire; Snettisham, W. Norfolk; Oswestry, Salop (Ainscough,
Barker & Stace, 1986); London (Wurzell, 1988); Newport, Gwent (Evans, 1989); four others are known from England (http://www.bsbimaps.org.uk/atlas/main.php); Ireland (http://www.bsbimaps.org.uk/atlas/main.php); Netherlands:
Woensdrecht, Noord Brabant (van der Meijden, 1996); Czech Republic: Sušice, Dolní Dvorce, SW Bohemia (Krahulec
& Nesvadbová, 2007); Italy: Arena Po, Pavia.

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Intergeneric hybrid Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros in Italy

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Site location and description of the habitat
A single specimen has been found in the NW part
of Italy (southern Lombardy), in the town of Arena
Po (province of Pavia), near ‘Località Stazione’, 600
m E of the local railroad station, 2.16 km S of the river Po, 63 m a.s.l. (45°4’56.6394’’N 9°22’6.8520’’E).
The site is surrounded principally by maize (Zea
mays) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) fields, and is situated along the railway.
The hybrid grew in a dry ditch, between a road
and the railway stone ballast, among a dense population of Festuca rubra subsp. rubra. The vegetation of
the site at the time of the collection (May 2009) was
composed by a 90% cover of herb layer, which included the following species: Festuca rubra L. subsp.
rubra, Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel., Bromus hordeaceus L. subsp. hordeaceus, Carex praecox Schreb.,
Ranunculus velutinus Ten., Poa trivialis L., Equisetum
telmateia Ehrh., Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara
& Grande, Erigeron annuus (L.) Desf., Geranium dissectum L., Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers., Convolvulus
arvensis L., Ulmus minor Mill. (juv.), Rumex acetosa L.
subsp. acetosa, Dactylis glomerata L. subsp. glomerata.
Distribution
Currently in Europe fourteen growing sites of Festuca rubra subsp. rubra × Vulpia myuros are known:
ten located in the United Kingdom, one in Ireland,

one in Netherlands, one in Czech Republic and one
in Italy (Fig. 4). Five of the them were located along
the railway, the others mainly in disturbed areas such
river banks, road edges and public parks. New locations could be further discovered, since Vulpia myuros
and Festuca rubra s.l. are widespread in Europe, such
as their ecological requirements.
Specimina visa selecta
Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra × Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C.
Gmel.
Lombardia: Arena Po (Pavia), presso Località Stazione,
600 m E dalla stazione FS, ciglio stradale adiacente alla
massicciata ferroviaria, 01. V. 2009, N. Ardenghi (PAV),
cf. Fig. 1.
Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra
Lombardia: Arena Po (Pavia), presso Località Stazione, c. 600 m a est della stazione FS, ciglio stradale
adiacente alla massicciata ferroviaria, 45°4’56.6394’’N
9°22’6.852’’E, 12. V. 2009, N. Ardenghi (PAV). Arena
Po (Pavia), località Gerolo, scarpata stradale a ridosso
di un campo, 45°5’42.9972’’N 9°20’56.9436’’E, 16. V.
2009, N. Ardenghi (Herb. Ardenghi).
Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel.
Lombardia: Stradella (Pavia), via Di Vittorio, aiuola spartitraffico, 45°4’3.0138’’N 9°18’18.468’’E, 08. V. 2009, N.
Ardenghi (Herb. Ardenghi). Arena Po (Pavia), via San Rocco, ai piedi di un’aiuola, 45°5’38.169’’N 9°21’41.976’’E,
16. V. 2009, N. Ardenghi (Herb. Ardenghi).

REFERENCES
Ainscough M.M., Barker C.M. & Stace C.A., 1986 –
Natural hybrids between Festuca and species of Vulpia section Vulpia. Watsonia 16: 143-151.
Barker C. M. & Stace C. A., 1984 – Hybridization in the
genera Vulpia and Festuca (Poaceae): the characteristics of
artificial hybrids. Nord. J. Bot. 4: 289-302.
Barkworth M.E., Capels K.M., Long S. & Anderton
L.K. (Eds.), 2007 – Flora of North America, Vol. 24:
Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part
1. Oxford University Press, New York.
Boulos L., 2005 – Flora of Egypt, Volume 4: Monocotyledons (Alismataceae-Orchidaceae). Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.

Botanical Society of The British Isles (BSBI), – Mapping Portal: http://www.bsbimaps.org.uk/atlas/main.
php. Accessed on 16/02/2010.
Evans, T.G., 1989 – Welsh ‘Supergrass’. BSBI News 51: 12-13.
Foggi B., Rossi G., Parolo G. & Ardenghi N.M.G.,
2011 – Festuche d’Italia (in prep.).
Hackel E., 1882 – Monographia Festucarum europaearum:
132-137. T. Fischer, Kassel und Berlin.
Kerguelen M. & Plonka F., 1989 – Les Festuca de la
flore de France (Corse comprise). Bull. Soc. Bot. CentreOuest, n.s., numéro spécial 10: 1-368.
Krahulec F. & Nesvadbova J., 2007 – Intergeneric hybrid
Festuca rubra × Vulpia myuros in the Czech Republic.

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Preslia 79: 63-68.
Lauber K. & Wagner G., 2007 – Flora Helvetica. 2e édition. Editions Belin, Paris.
Lewis E.J., 1975 – Festuca L. × Lolium L. = ×Festulolium
Achers. & Grabner. In: Stace C.A. (ed.) Hybridization
and the flora of the British Isles: 547-552. Academic
Press, London.
Mcneill J., 2006 – International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Vienna-Code. Regnum Vegetabile, 146.
Available from: http://ibot.sav.sk/icbn/main.htm. Accessed October 2009.
Meijden Van der R., 1996 – Heukels’ Flora van Nederland. Ed. 22. Wolfers-Noordhoff, Groningen.
Pignatti S., 1982 – Flora d’Italia. Edagricole, Bologna.
Portal R., 1999 – Festuca de France. Ed. Portal, Vals-près-

N.M.G. Ardenghi, G. Parolo, B. Foggi

Le-Puy.
Stace C.A., 1997 – New Flora of the British Isles. Ed. 2.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Stace C.A. & Cotton R., 1974 – Hybrids between Festuca
rubra L. sensu lato and Vulpia membranacea (L.) Dumort. Watsonia 10: 119-138.
Tutin T.G., Heywood V.H., Burges N.A., Moore
D.M., Valentine D.H., Walters S.M. & Webb D.A.
(Eds.), 1980 – Flora Europaea, vol. 1-5. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.
Willis A.J., 1975 – Festuca L. × Vulpia C.C.Gmel. = × Festulpia Melderis ex Stace & Cotton. In: Stace C.A. (Ed.),
Hybridization and the flora of the British Isles: 552-554.
Academic Press, London.
Wurzell B.,1988 – Supergrass! BSBI News 50: 11.

Summary: A hybrid between Festuca rubra L. subsp. rubra and Vulpia myuros (L.) C.C. Gmel. (nothogenus ×Festulpia)
was found in N-Italy. This is the southernmost record of this nothogenus for Europe and the first for the Italian territory.
The specimen is characterised by sterility and intermediate features between the parental species, both morphological
and anatomical; among these, in our case, the transversal leaf blade section is the diagnostic and innovative one. No evident biometrical differences resulted from the comparison between the Italian specimen and the ×Festulpia descriptions
reported in the literature.


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