Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA; Department of Botany, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.
The genus Festuca L. (Poaceae) has a cosmopolitan distribution concentrated in the Holarctic; some 350-400 species are known. The Andes also show high diversitywith 40 species in Peru, 30 in Bolivia and 30 in Argentina. Although Festuca represents one of the dominant genera of the paramos of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, no modern and detailed study of the genus for this region exists. Forty species of Festuca are mentioned in the literature, but presently only 28 native and 2 introduced species are confirmed in the region. In addition we recognize about 7-10 new species which are in the process of being described. We can recognize three ecological groups of species: 1. mountain forest (2600-3500 m, F. sodiroana, F. flacca and F. caldasii), 2. grass páramo (3000-4300 m, F. procera, F. subulifolia, F. azucarica etc.) and 3. superpáramo (above 4000 m, F. vaginalis, F. glumosa, F. andicola and F. chimborazensis). Six species are recorded from Ecuador to Colombia: F. andicola, F. asplundii, F. glumosa, F. caldasii, F. sodiroana and F. subulifolia. In Colombia the genus is significantly (although not exclusively) concentrated in the Central Cordillera. The following species are found only in Ecuador: F. chimborazensis and F. vaginalis (widely distributed through the Eastern and Western Cordilleras), F. dasyantha, F. densipaniculata, F. flacca and F. quadridentata (found in small isolated regions). The following are found only in Colombia: F. azucarica (Central Cordillera), F. colombiana, F. reclinata, F. clefiana and F. cundinamarceae (Cordillera Oriental). The highest number of narrowly endemic species occurs in the Colombian Cordillera Oriental, where the species F. ulochaeta has been recorded (otherwise known only from SE Brazil and NE Argentina).