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Red fescue

Festuca rubra subsp. rubra. (as distinguished from chewings fescue which is classified as Festuca rubra subsp. commutata).


An important meadow and pasture grazing grass but of low productivity and palatability.

Not usually considered to be a significant arable weed species but difficult to control with post-emergence herbicides on account of the narrow leaves which restrict herbicide uptake.

Red fescues, and the various cultivars, are commonly included in lawn seed mixtures and are especially valued for high tolerance of shade, dry sunny areas or acidic soils.


Densely tufted perennial 15–90 cms, but usually a close-grazed hardy turf grass. Spreads via rhizomes in contrast to sheep`s fescue which does not have rhizomes.. Basal leaf sheaths are reddish / brown, hence `rubra`.

The spikelets have very short awns (up to 3 mm), 3–9 flowered.

Leaf blade

Green / greyish-green, shiny, upright, very narrow bristle-like leaves, tightly infolded and when opened 2 / 3 mm. Tip bluntly pointed. Leaf sheaths often hairy.

Red fescue © Blackthorn arable.

Red fescue © Blackthorn arable.


No obvious auricles but present as rounded extensions of the margins of the collar.


Very short, 0.5 mm, and blunt.

Red fescue ligule