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

Festuca altaica Trin.
Altai fescue (northern rough fescue)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Festuca altaica
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Species Information

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Perennial, densely tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems (25) 30-90 (120) cm tall, the nodes not visible.
Sheaths conspicuous at the base of the stems, persisting for more than 1 year, remaining entire, not conspicuously splitting between the nerves; blades (4) 10-30 (45) cm long, 1-3 mm wide, flat or folded; ligules 0.2-0.6 mm long.
Inflorescence an open panicle, 5-16 cm long, the branches (3) 5-13 cm long often with the flowers and branches borne on one side of the axis, the lower branches weak, to 10 cm long, often reflexed and to one side; spikelets strongly purplish-bronze with a sheen, 8-14 mm long, 3- to 4- (6-) flowered; lower glumes (4) 4.2-6.8 (8.3) mm long, the upper ones (4.5) 5.3-7.5 (10) mm long; lemmas (6.5) 7.5-9 (12) mm long, the margins translucent, awned, the awns 0.2-0.7 mm long; anthers 2.6-4.5 (5) mm long; ovary tops hairy.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows, grasslands, shrublands, rocky slopes and forest openings from the montane (N BC) to alpine zones; common in BC in and east of the Coast Mountains, S to 51 degrees N; amphiberingian, N to AK, YT and NT, E to AB, disjunct to PQ and NF and S to N MI; E Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Festuca altaica

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) 160 1523 2380
Slope Gradient (%) 0 19 300
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 185 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
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(56), BAFA(430), BG(3), BWBS(154), ESSF(214), ICH(3), IDF(11), IMA(6), MH(11), MS(74), PP(7), SBPS(5), SBS(3), SWB(384)


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 altaica subsp. scabrella (Torr. ex Hook.) Hultén
Festuca altaica var. scabrella (Torr. ex Hook.) Breitung
Festuca scabrella Torr. ex Hook.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References