Festuca idahoensis Elmer (F. ovina L. var. ingrata Hackel = ssp. idahoensis; F. idahoensis var. roemeri Pavl., F. roemeri [Pavl.] Alexeev = ssp. roemeri)
Perennial, densely tufted grass from fibrous roots; stems 30-100 cm tall, with visible nodes. Leaves: Sheaths conspicuous at the base of the stems, persisting for more than one year, remaining entire, not shredding into fibres; blades (5) 8-25 (35) cm long (adjacent plants may have conspicuously longer or shorter leaves), 1-3.5 mm wide (flat) or 0.4-0.8 mm wide (folded), hexagonal near the midleaves, with three to five nerved; ligules 0.1-0.6 mm long. Flowers: Inflorescence an open panicle, (5) 7-20 (25) cm long, the branches (1.5) 3-7 cm long; spikelets (two) three to seven (nine)-flowered, (5.8) 7.5-17 (19) mm long; lower glumes 2-5 (6) mm long, the upper ones (3) 4-8 mm long; lemmas (5) 6-8 (10) mm long, awned, the awns 2-6 (7) mm long; rachillas zig-zag, visible between the florets; anthers (2.5) 3.2-4 (4.5) mm long; ovary tops smooth.
Notes: Two variable subspecies occur in BC: 1. Plants fine in aspect; leaves folded, hexagonal in cross-section (near the midleaves), 0.5-0.7 mm wide, with three to five nerves; panicles 9.5-20 (25) cm long = ssp. idahoensis 2. Plants coarse in aspect; leaves egg-shaped in cross-section (near the midleaves), 0.75-1.2 mm wide, with 4-7 nerves; panicles 7-11 cm long = ssp. roemeri (Pavl.) S. Aiken. Photo by Toni Corelli.
Mesic to dry grassland in the steppe to subalpine zones (Douglas et al., 2001). Open pine and poplar forests; exposed bench lands in meadows (Pahl and Smreciu, 1999).
Deep, fertile, silt and clay soils (Pahl and Smreciu, 1999); Shallow and or strongly drained soils on stony and rocky sites; characteristic of Mor humus forms (Klinka et al., 1989).
Nitrogen-poor soils (Klinka et al., 1989).
Moist to dry.
Shade-tolerant (Klinka et al., 1989).
Late successional to climax. Less common in open forests.
bec zone subzone status
Major component of three sub-communities: oak -Idaho fescue; oak-Idaho fescue-Cerastium arvense; and oak-Idaho fescue-Trifolium microcephalum.
Range rehabilitation (Pahl and Smreciu, 1999).
One of most palatable forages, high protein levels in spring, but decrease in summer. Heavily used in winter by elk and mule deer, and by elk in spring (Pahl and Smreciu, 1999).
Good for dry sites; clump forming so can become large and wide spreading; use in rockeries, as bank covers, in containers; may be too aggressive for meadow conversions (S. Bastin, personal communication).
seed collection time
Mid-July - August
First crop in third year.
no seeds per kg
collection and abstraction
Hand collect and clean by hand-rubbing and winnowing. De-awn and break up doubles (Pahl and Smrecius, 1999).
Store in fridge at 5 degrees C (S. Bastin, personal communication).
fruit seed dormancy treatment
No dormancy treatments required. Sow 0.6-1.2 cm deep; 80% germination in 60-12 days. Seeding in fall or spring give equally good results. Transplant into 4 inch clumps of seedlings (S. Bastin, personal communication).
Tufted perennial, so divisions in early spring or late summer are a possibility (B. Costanzo, personal communication).
additional info and photos
For more information and pictures, visit the E-Flora BC website at www.eflora.bc.ca.