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

Festuca saximontana Rydb.
Rocky Mountain fescue
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7013)

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Distribution of Festuca saximontana
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Species Information

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Perennial, densely tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems (5) 20-50 (60) cm tall, with visible nodes in taller plants.
Sheaths conspicuous at the base of the stems, persisting for more than 1 year, remaining entire, not shredding into fibres; blades 2-20 cm long, 0.3-0.7 mm wide, stiff, hairlike, folded; ligules 0.1-0.4 mm long.
Inflorescence a narrow panicle, 3-9 (13) cm long, the branches 0.5-3 (5) cm long; spikelets (2-) 3- to 4- (6-) flowered, (3.5) 4.5-9 (10) mm long; lower glumes 1.5-3.5 mm long, the upper ones 2.5-4.8 mm long; lemmas 3-5.6 mm long, awned, the awns 0.5-2 (2.5) mm long; anthers (0.9) 1.2-1.7 (2.1) mm long; ovary tops smooth.
F. saximontana var. purpusiana is the name given to plants 8-20 (25) cm tall, in which the stems are less than 2 times the length of the basal tufts. Such plants are found at higher altitudes in more exposed habitats, but do not appear to be genetically distinct. The var. robertsiana, described by Pavlick (1984) from the Rocky Mountains of BC, is intermediate in culm length between the var. purpusiana and var. saximontana and is difficult to distinguish (Aiken 1994).

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows, grasslands, rocky slopes and ridges and forest openings in the montane to subalpine zones; common in S BC in and E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, infrequent in SW and N BC; N to AK, YT, NT, E to NF and S to NY, MI, WI, IA, KS, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Festuca saximontana

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) 410 1324 2555
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 104
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 196 360
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(14), BAFA(28), BG(29), BWBS(14), CWH(1), ESSF(143), ICH(14), IDF(269), IMA(15), MH(4), MS(93), PP(13), SBPS(61), SBS(41), SWB(15)


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 saximontana var. purpusiana (St.-Yves) Frederiksen & Pavlick

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References