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Idaho Fescue
Festuca idahoensis
About Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis) Nurseries Show All Photos Idaho Fescue or Blue bunchgrass is native to western North America, where it is widespread and very common. In California it is most often found in the Coast Ranges and foothills of the Sierra (in the Sierra, generally at 4000 ft and above). It can be found in many ecosystems, from shady forests to open plains grasslands. This fescue is a densely-clumping long-lived perennial grass with stems from about 30 to 80 centimeters in height. The stiff, short, rolling leaves are mostly located near the base of the tuft. The flower cluster has hairy spikelets which produce large awned fruits. The root system is thick and penetrates deeply into the soil. The roots have symbiotic mycorrhizae. This is a nutritious and preferred forage grass for wild and domestic animals. Typical native grass associates in the far west coastal prairies are California oatgrass, Tufted Hairgrass and Purple Needlegrass.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 2.6 ft (0.3 - 0.8 m)

Max. Width
.5 ft (0.2 m)

Upright, Fountain


Growth Rate

Blue-green blades 5-35 cm long, less than 2mm wide, rolled and rough to the touch.

Flower Color
Yellow, Cream

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry, open savannahs, clearings in chaparral


Elevation ?
15' - 11698'

Annual Precip. ?
10.7" - 143.7"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 5.56"

Coldest Month ?
21.4° F - 51.5° F

Hottest Month ?
43.0° F - 75.0° F

Humidity ?
0.31 vpd - 22.24 vpd

Soil Description
Adaptable, tolerant of sand, loam and clay

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -10° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6*, 7*, 8, 9, 10, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Use with geophytes such as Mariposa Lily (Calochortus sp.)

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

You can mow this grass after it flowers, being careful to mow high and only remove the flower stalks, not the leaves.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Groundcovers, Deer Resistant, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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