Festuca idahoensis Elmer ssp. roemeri (Pavlick) S. Aiken. Synonyms: Festuca idahoensis Elmer var. roemeri Pavlick; Festuca roemeri (Pavlick) Alexeev
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), 0.75-1.2 mm wide, egg-shaped in cross-section near the midleaves, with four to seven nerves; ligules 0.1-0.6 mm long. Flowers: Inflorescence an open panicle, 7-11 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 (from Douglas, et al). Photo by Dave Polster.
Grasslands and open forest. On Vancouver Island ssp. roemeri occurs on south-facing, grass balds up to about 500 m elevation and at lower elevations in open, often rocky outcrop areas in the Pseudotsuga menziesii or Quercus garryana forests (Pavlick 1983). The species occurs on moderately dry to moist prairies, savannahs, meadows, and grassy openings within woods. While drought tolerant with extensive roots, it is found on somewhat more mesic (moist) sites such as the edges of grassy balds (USDA 2008).
Shallow and or strongly drained soils on stony and rocky sites; characteristic of Mor humus forms (Klinka et al 1989). It prefers moderately acid to slightly alkaline, fine to medium textured mineral soils (USDA 2008).
Nitrogen-poor soils (Klinka et al., 1989).
As an upland grass it requires good soil drainage and does not tolerate winter soil saturation or flooding (USDA 2008).
Shade-tolerant (Klinka et al., 1989). The species generally grows in full sun but will tolerate partial shade near forest edges and oaks (USDA 2008).
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.
Important native grass for restoration of upland praries and oak savannah. May be useful for revegetation and erosion control where a slower establishing, fine-textured grass is desired (USDA 2008).
Forage value and palatability for wildlife and livestock are unknown, but may be similar to Idaho fescue (F. idahoensis). As a range grass, Idaho fescue is rated as fair to good forage (USDA 2008).
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). Other possible uses are low maintenance lawns or as a cover crop in vineyards and young orchards, although further evaluation is needed. Some populations and specimens have ornamental value, including those with fine textured, purple and red tinged stems or bluish foliage (USDA 2008).
seed collection time
Mid-July to August(Seed info from Pahl and Smreciu, 1999 for Festuca idahoensis ssp. idahoensis)
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
Seeds germinate without treatment. However, germination is quicker and more uniform after 14 days of cold, moist stratification (chilling) (USDA 2008). 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). Fall seeding is generally preferred but not required. Rate of establishment from seed is moderately slow. Spring sown plants do not flower until the second full growing season (USDA 2008).