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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #7013)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Festuca saximontana
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Species Information

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).

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


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)
1324 410 2555
Slope Gradient (%)
21 0 104

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

196 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 0 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Festuca saximontana var. purpusiana (St.-Yves) Frederiksen & Pavlick