E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Festuca brachyphylla Schult. ex Schult. & Schult. f.
alpine fescue
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #21153)

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Distribution of Festuca brachyphylla
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Species Information

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Perennial, more or less densely tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems mostly smooth, 5-30 cm tall.
Sheaths not conspicuous at the base of the stems, splitting between the nerves or remaining entire, usually not shredding into fibres; blades (2) 10-20 cm long, 0.35-0.65 mm wide, folded, angular and more or less irregular-hexagonal in cross-section with weakly developed sclerenchyma strands; ligules 0.1-0.3 mm long.
Inflorescence a narrow, spikelike panicle, 1.5-4 (5.5) cm long, the branches 0.2-1.2 cm long; spikelets 2- to 4- (6-) flowered, 4-8.5 mm long; lower glumes 1.2-3.3 mm long, the upper ones (2.4) 2.9-4.6 mm long; lemmas 3-5.2 mm long, awned, the awns 0.8-3.5 mm, usually less than 2.5 mm long, the lowermost lemmas 3-4.2 mm long; anthers (0.5) 0.7-1.1 (1.3) mm long; ovary tops smooth.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry rocky slopes, scree slopes and moraines in the alpine zone; frequent throughout BC in and E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MN, CO, AZ and CA; Greenland, Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Festuca brachyphylla

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 250 2001 3000
Slope Gradient (%) 0 24 235
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 190 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(172), BAFA(213), BG(1), BWBS(6), cma(12), ESSF(242), ICH(4), IDF(7), IMA(78), MH(2), MS(17), PP(8), SBPS(1), SBS(3), SWB(6)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Festuca brachyphylla var. groenlandica Schol.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References