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

Festuca occidentalis Hook.
western fescue
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Hans Roemer  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #26071)

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Distribution of Festuca occidentalis
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Species Information

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Perennial, densely tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems (25) 45-110 cm tall, with visible nodes.
Sheaths not conspicuous at the base of the stems, remaining entire, not shredding into fibres; blades (5) 10-20 (40) cm long, 0.4-0.7 mm wide, tightly folded, hairlike; ligules 0.1-0.4 (0.5) mm long.
Inflorescence a loose, often drooping, panicle, 5-20 cm long, the branches (1) 2-10 cm long; spikelets 2- to 5- (7-) flowered, 6-12 mm long; lower glumes 2-5 mm long, the upper ones 3-6 mm long; lemmas 4-7 (8) mm long; awned, the awns 3-12 mm long; anthers (1) 1.7-3 mm long; ovary tops hairy.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows, rocky slopes, clearings and open forests in the lowland and montane zones; frequent in BC south of 56 degrees N, infrequent northward to 57 degrees N; E to SW AB, disjunct to ON and S to MI, WI, WY, UT and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Festuca occidentalis

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) 9 910 2294
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 240
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 207 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 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: BG(3), BWBS(9), CDF(81), CMA(2), CWH(206), ESSF(117), ICH(388), IDF(458), MH(3), MS(225), PP(28), SBPS(90), SBS(610), SWB(2)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane, North American grass distributed in the Pacific, Cordilleran, and Central regions. Occurs on nitrogen-poor soils within boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Its occurrence increases with increasing continentality, and decreases with increasing elevation and latitude. Scattered in coniferous forests on shallow and/or strongly drained soils on stony and rocky sites. An oxylophytic species characteristic of Mor humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


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 not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Festuca ovina var. polyphylla Vasey ex Beal

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References