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Red Fescue
Festuca rubra
About Red Fescue (Festuca rubra) Nurseries Show All Photos Red Fescue is one of many species of Festuca native to California. It is a cool-season species of bunch grass (summer dormant) that is found worldwide and can tolerate many habitats and climates. It is a nutritious and palatable forage grass for domestic and wild animals. It is used as a turfgrass and groundcover and can be left completely unmowed for a lush prairie-like look. It spreads by rhizomes. There are three recognized subspecies, and many cultivars have been bred.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.3 - 2.6 ft (0.4 - 0.8 m)

Upright, Fountain

Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dunes, meadows, openings in woodland or chaparral

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-12' - 14090'

Annual Precip. ?
5.5" - 137.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.17" - 3.99"

Coldest Month ?
10.8° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
34.1° F - 78.2° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 28.20 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates many soil types

Soil PH
5.6 - 6.9


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

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

Companion Plants
It can be used with a wide variety of native plants in a meadow-like garden or as an accent among shrubs and subshrubs

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Does not need to be cut back but can be cut back in summer if desired

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment freshly harvested seeds need 5 days stratification (Association of Official Seed Analysts 1981; or dry storage for 1-2 mos. before sowing (Crocker and Barton 1957).

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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