Sheep's fescue

Festuca ovina


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.


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.


Sheep's fescue liguleVery short, less than 0.5 mm, and blunt










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

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 2Sheep's fescue - seedling. © Blackthorn arable.
Sheep's fescue - matureSheep's fescue - mature plant. Photo © Alamy Ltd.