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Sheep's fescue

Festuca ovina


Densely tufted perennial up to 60 cms, commonly found on acidic land throughout Europe. In contrast to red fescue does not have rhizomes.

Spikelets with extremely short awns, 0.5 – 1.5 mm, 3–9 flowered.


Drought resistant and valuable grass for sheep grazing in heaths, moorland and upland areas.

Sheeps fescue is especially valued in seed mixtures which require reduced mowing and are a valued component of grass and wild flower meadows.

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.

Leaf blade

Leaves green to greyish green with leaf blade permanently folded, bristle like and only up to 1 mm in diameter. Leaf sheaths smooth and hairless.

Sheep's fescue seedling. © Blackthorn arable.

Sheep's fescue - mature plant. © Blackthorn arable.


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


Very short, less than 0.5 mm, and blunt