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Festuca rubra

(Ravine Fescue)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Arabic:

فستوكة حمراء

Common Names in Chinese:


Common Names in Czech:

Kostřava červená

Common Names in Danish:

Rød-Svingel, Rød Svingel, Rød-Svingel

Common Names in Dutch:

Rood Zwenkgras, Roodzwenkgras

Common Names in English:

Ravine Fescue, Chewing's fescue, Red Fescue

Common Names in Finnish:


Common Names in French:

Fétuque Rouge, fétuque rouge

Common Names in German:

Gewöhnlicher Rot Schwingel, Rot Schwingel, Rot Schwingel i w S, Rot-Schwingel, Rotschwingel

Common Names in Hungarian:

Veres Csenkesz

Common Names in Icelandic:


Common Names in Italian:

Festuca Rossa, Fusajola, Fusajola (Switzerland), Gramigna Fusaiola

Common Names in Japanese:

Oo Ushinoke Gusa, Reddo Fesuku

Common Names in Korean:

Wang Gim Ui Teol

Common Names in Lithuanian:

Raudonasis eraičinas

Common Names in Polish:

Kostrzewa Czerwona, Kostrzewa Czerwonawa

Common Names in Portuguese:

Festuca Vermelha, Festuca-Encarnada

Common Names in Russian:

Ovsianitsa Krasnaia, Ovsjanica Krasnaja, овсяница красная

Common Names in Spanish:

Cañuela Roja, Canuela Roja, Festuca Encarnada, Festuca Roja (Argentina)

Common Names in Swedish:



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Family Poaceae

Annual or perennial herbs, or tall woody bamboos . Flowering stems (culms ) jointed , internodes hollow or solid; branches arising singly from nodes and subtended by a leaf sheath and 2-keeled prophyll, often fascicled in bamboos. Leaves arranged alternately in 2 ranks , differentiated into sheath, blade , and an adaxial erect appendage at sheath/blade junction (ligule) ; leaf sheath surrounding and supporting culm-internode, split to base or infrequently tubular with partially or completely fused margins , modified with reduced blade in bamboos (culm sheaths) ; leaf blades divergent, usually long, narrow and flat, but varying from inrolled and filiform to ovate , veins parallel, sometimes with cross-connecting veinlets (especially in bamboos) ; ligule membranous or a line of hairs . Inflorescence terminal or axillary , an open, contracted , or spikelike panicle, or composed of lax to spikelike racemes arranged along an elongate central axis, or digitate, paired , or occasionally solitary; axillary inflorescences often many, subtended by spatheoles (specialized bladeless leaf sheaths) and gathered into a leafy compound panicle; spikelets often aggregated into complex clusters in bamboos. Spikelets composed of distichous bracts arranged along a slender axis (rachilla) ; typically 2 lowest bracts (glumes ) empty, subtending 1 to many florets ; glumes often poorly differentiated from accompanying bracts in bamboos. Florets composed of 2 opposing bracts enclosing a single small flower, outer bract (lemma) clasping the more delicate, usually 2-keeled inner bract (palea) ; base of floret often with thickened prolongation articulated with rachilla (callus) ; lemma often with apical or dorsal bristle (awn ), glumes also sometimes awned . Flowers bisexual or unisexual ; lodicules (small scales representing perianth) 2, rarely 3 or absent, 3 to many in bamboos, hyaline or fleshy ; stamens 3 rarely 1, 2, 6, or more in some bamboos, hypogynous, filaments capillary , anthers versatile; ovary 1-celled, styles (1 or) 2(rarely 3), free or united at base, topped by feathery stigmas, exserted from sides or apex of floret. Fruit normally a dry indehiscent caryopsis with thin pericarp firmly adherent to seed, pericarp rarely free, fleshy in some bamboos; embryo small or large; hilum punctate to linear .

About 700 genera and 11,000 species: widely distributed in all regions of the world.[1]

Genus Festuca

Perennials , tufted , shoots extra- or intra-vaginal. Leaf sheath margins usually free , rarely connate , sometimes with auricles ; leaf blades folded to conduplicate and filiform , sometimes flat; ligule membranous. Inflorescence an open, contracted or spikelike panicle. Spikelets with 2 to several florets , uppermost floret usually reduced; rachilla usually scabrid , rarely smooth or pubescent ; disarticulating above glumes and between florets; glumes usually unequal, herbaceous to scarious , rarely subleathery, lower glume often small, 1-veined, upper glume usually shorter than lowest lemma, 3(-5) -veined; lemmas usually similar in texture to glumes, often subleathery at least with age, usually ± laterally compressed but not keeled , rounded on back at least toward base , usually 5-veined, veins sometimes prominent , apex acuminate, entire or notched , awned or awnless; palea subequal to lemma, keels scabrid, rarely smooth. Stamens 3. Ovary glabrous or hairy on top. Caryopsis oblong or linear , usually ventrally sulcate , usually free from lemma and palea, hilum long-linear. x = 7.

About 450 species:temperate regions throughout the world, extending into the tropics on mountain tops; 55 species (25 endemic) in China.

Many of the species are superficially very similar, particularly among the fine-leaved species. In these, the position of sclerenchyma tissue , as seen in a cross section of the leaf blade, is an important aid to identification. The type of branching of the basal vegetative shoots (tillers) is also important. If the shoot breaks through the base of the subtending leaf sheath a loose tuft results (extravaginal branching), but if it grows up inside the leaf sheath a denser tuft results (intravaginal branching).

The fine-leaved species include a number of species aggregates . The aggregate name has been used in the main key , as this will be sufficient for most users . Within the aggregates individual taxa are recognized either at specific or infraspecific rank, but the differences between the taxa are slight and often overlapping.

This large genus is divided into subgenera , which are indicated in the key. Recent molecular work is indicating that the larger broad-leaved species are not closely related to the fine-leaved species.

Most of the species provide good grazing, and some are important constituents of fine lawns.[2]

Physical Description

Species Festuca rubra

Plants loosely tufted , shortly rhizomatous ; shoots extravaginal ; basal sheaths reddish brown. Culms 15-60(-100) cm tall, nodes 1-3. Leaf sheaths glabrous or with retrose hairs , occasionally reddish; auricles present as erect swellings or absent; leaf blades setaceous , conduplicate or culm blades flat, 6-30 cm × 0.4-1 mm (to 4 mm when flat), veins 5-7; adaxial to abaxial sclerenchyma strands absent, abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow discrete strands; ligule 0.1-0.5 mm, margin without cilia. Panicle fairly loose , 5-14(-20) cm; branches 1.5-8 cm, scabrid or hairy , 1-4 at lowest node. Spikelets 6-13 mm, green or purple; florets 2-6(-10) ; glumes smooth or slightly scabrid; lower glume narrowly lanceolate, 2-3.5(-4.5) mm; upper glume broadly lanceolate, 3.5-5.5(-6) mm; rachilla internodes ca. 0.8 mm, pubescent ; lemmas smooth, scabrid or pubescent, (4-) 5-7(-8) mm; awns (0.3-) 1-3.5(-5) mm, rarely awnless; palea keels scabrid toward apex. Anthers (1-) 2-3.7 mm. Ovary apex glabrous. 2n = 14, 21, 28, 42, 49, 53, 56, 64, 70. [source]

Festuca rubra is a very polymorphic species, widespread in temperate and cold regions of the N hemisphere, and useful for pastures and lawns. Members of the complex (nos. 35-42) may be identified by the presence of young tiller leaf sheaths that are fused in a tube almost to the top. Look for this character if the leaf sheaths are reddish brown with retrorse hairs and the older leaf sheaths are fibrous . Leaf cross sections of the F. rubra complex are characteristic, with small patches of sclerenchyma under the lower epidermis , but no strands running across the leaf. [source]

There are numerous variants , and many infraspecific taxa have been described. The following subspecies can be recognized in China. [source]

Habit: Graminoid

Flowers: Bloom Period: June. • Flower Color: mauve , rose


Size: 18-24" tall.


Grassy slopes , roadsides, alpine meadows, other grassy places, in sun or shade; 600-4500 m [3].

Typically found in the intertidal zone at the water's edge at a mean distance from sea level of 265.47 meters (870.96 feet).[4]

Biome: Coastal.


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Duration: Perennial


Soil: Minimum pH: 5.6 • Maximum pH: 7.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Moisture: Drought Tolerance: High

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b. (map)


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Festuca duriuscula var. rubra (L.) Alph. Wood • Festuca ovina L. var. rubra (L.) Sm.


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 17-Oct-2001

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Festuca

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 128 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus. Here are just 100 of them:

F. actae 'Banks Peninsula Blue' (Fescue) · F. airoides (Tufted Fescue) · F. altaica (Altai Fescue) · F. amethystina (Rainbow Fescue) · F. amethystina 'Superba' (Rainbow Fescue) · F. ammobia (Sand Fescue) · F. arizonica (Arizona Fescue) · F. armoricana (Breton Fescue) · F. arundinacea (Tall Fescue) · F. arvernensis (Blue Fescue) · F. auriculata (Eared Fescue) · F. baffinensis (Baffin Fescue) · F. brachyphylla (Alpine Fescue) · F. brachyphylla brachyphylla (Alpine Fescue) · F. brachyphylla coloradensis (Alpine Fescue) · F. brevissima (Alaska Fescue) · F. californica (California Fescue) · F. californica var. californica (California Fescue) · F. calligera (Southwest Fescue) · F. campestris (Big Rough Fescue) · F. dasyclada (Oil Shale Fescue) · F. drymeia (Roadside Fescue) · F. earlei (Earle's Fescue) · F. edlundiae (Arctic Festuca) · F. elatior (Meadow Fescue) · F. elatior pratensis (Meadow Ryegrass) · F. elmeri (Coast Fescue) · F. filiformis (Fineleaf Sheep Fescue) · F. frederikseniae (North Atlantic Fescue) · F. gautieri (Bearskin Fescue) · F. gautieri 'Hobbit' (Bearskin Fescue) · F. gigantea (Giant Fescue) · F. glauca (Grey Fescue) · F. glauca 'Blauglut' (Blauglut Blue Fescue) · F. glauca 'Boulder Blue' (Boulder Blue Fescue) · F. glauca 'Silberreiher' (Silver Heron Blue Fescue) · F. groenlandica (Greenland Fescue) · F. hallii (Hall's Fescue) · F. hawaiiensis (Hawai'i Fescue) · F. heteromalla (Spreading Fescue) · F. heterophylla (Variousleaf Fescue) · F. howellii (Howell's Fescue) · F. hyperborea (Boreal Fescue) · F. idahoensis (Idaho Fescue) · F. idahoensis var. idahoensis (Idaho Fescue) · F. idahoensis 'Siskiyou Blue' (Idaho Fescue) · F. inermis (Smooth Bromegrass) · F. kashmiriana (Dog Fescue) · F. lenensis (Tundra Fescue) · F. ligulata (Guadalupe Fescue) · F. mairei (Atlas Fescue) · F. matthewsii (Alpine Fescue Tussock) · F. minutiflora (Small-Flower Fescue) · F. muelleri (Muellers Fescue) · F. novae-zelandiae (Fescue Tussock) · F. occidentalis (Western Fescue) · F. ovina (Ovina Fescue) · F. ovina glauca (Sheep Fescue) · F. ovina tenuifolia (Sheep Fescue) · F. ovina var. brevifolia (Sheep Fescue) · F. ovina var. glauca 'Elijah Blue' (Blue Fescue) · F. ovina var. glauca 'Golden Toupee' (Golden Fescue) · F. ovina var. glauca 'Sea Urchin' (Blue Fescue) · F. ovina var. glauca 'Solling' (Blue Fescue) · F. ovina var. ovina (Sheep Fescue) · F. ovina 'Aberfleece' (Sheep's Fescue 'aberfleece') · F. ovina 'Cantona' (Sheep's Fescue 'cantona') · F. paradoxa (Cluster Fescue) · F. parishii (Parish's California Fescue) · F. pinnata (Heath False Brome) · F. pontica (Yumak Out) · F. pratensis (Festuca Pratensis) · F. pratensis 'Cosmonaut' (Meadow Fescue 'cosmonaut') · F. prolifera (Prolific Fescue) · F. richardsonii (Richardson's Fescue) · F. roemeri (Roemer's Fescue) · F. rubra (Ravine Fescue) · F. rubra arctica (Richardson's Fescue) · F. rubra arenaria (Ravine Fescue) · F. rubra arnicola (Ravine Fescue) · F. rubra aucta (Blooming Sally) · F. rubra commutata (Chewing's Fescue) · F. rubra fallax (Flat Leaved Red Fescue) · F. rubra juncea var. juncea (Arctic Red Fescue) · F. rubra pruinosa (Ravine Fescue) · F. rubra rubra (Red Fescue) · F. rubra secunda (Ravine Fescue) · F. rubra secunda var. secunda (Arctic Red Fescue) · F. rubra vallicola (Ravine Fescue) · F. rubra var. mediana (Arctic Red Fescue) · F. rubra 'Abercharm' (Red Fescue 'abercharm') · F. rubra 'Amarone' (Red Fescue 'amarone') · F. rubra 'Blenheim' (Red Fescue 'blenheim') · F. rubra 'Greencard' (Red Fescue 'greencard') · F. rubra 'Heidrun' (Red Fescue 'heidrun') · F. rubra 'Jughandle' (Red Fescue) · F. rubra 'Relevant' (Red Fescue 'relevant') · F. rubra 'Rosetti 1' (Red Fescue 'rosetti 1') · F. rubra 'Rossinante' (Red Fescue 'rossinante') · F. rubra 'Sergei' (Red Fescue 'sergei')

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 14, 2007:



  1. Shou-liang Chen, De-Zhu Li, Guanghua Zhu, Zhenlan Wu, Sheng-lian Lu, Liang Liu, Zheng-ping Wang, Bi-xing Sun, Zheng-de Zhu, Nianhe Xia, Liang-zhi Jia, Zhenhua Guo, Wenli Chen, Xiang Chen, Yang Guangyao, Sylvia M. Phillips, Chris Stapleton, Robert J. Soreng, Susan G. Aiken, Nikolai N. Tzvelev, Paul M. Peterson, Stephen A. Renvoize, Marina V. Olonova & Klaus Ammann "Poaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 22. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Sheng-lian Lu, Xiang Chen & Susan G. Aiken "Festuca". in Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 1, 225, 242. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Festuca rubra". in Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 227, 236, 237, 238, 240. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  4. Standard Deviation = 485.720 based on 60,865 observations. Terrestrial altitude and ocean depth information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-01-30