Common Name: sheep fescue Duration: Perennial Nativity: Non-native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Densely cespitose, cool season dwarf perennial with narrow, stiff basal leaves and a narrow, dense panicle. Vegetative: Culms 30-50 cm long, erect, glabrous and smooth; sheaths closed for half their length, glabrous; ligules <1 mm; blades 10-20 cm long, smooth or scabrous, with 1-3 indistinct ribs. Inflorescence: Inflorescence 5-10 cm long, contracted, with 1-2 branches per node; branches usually erect, lower branches with 2 or more spikelets; spikelets 4-6 mm long, with 3-6 florets; glumes 1-4 mm long, smooth and glabrous, exceeded by upper florets; lemmas 3-4 mm long, smooth, usually with awns; awns terminal, 1-2 mm long; anthers 2 mm long. Ecology: Found in diverse habitats including hillsides, meadows, and open forests from 1000-13000 ft. (300-4000 m), but is most common in the mid-elevation range; flowers July-September. Distribution: California, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Missouri, Illinois, South Carolina, and the New England states Notes: Has often been confused with Festuca arizonica and Festuca idahoensis, which were misidentified as F. ovina in past records. F. ovina has blades with 1-3 indistinct ribs while F. idahoensis has 1-9 distinct ribs. Was introduced as a turf grass from Europe. Is a forage for deer, elk, and moose. Ethnobotany: Is used as ground cover and soil stabilization. Etymology: Festuca is Latin for grass stalk or straw, while ovine refers to sheep. Editor: LKearsley, 2012
Much like no. 8 [Festuca brachyphylla Schult. & Schult.f.]; sheaths open to the base; blades ca 0.5 mm wide, firm, the sclerenchyma forming a continuous, ±even band; infl more open and spreading; spikelets 5-7 mm, 3-8-fld; lemmas 3-3.5 mm; anthers 2-2.5 mm; 2n=14. Native of Europe, weedy and occasionally intr. in the ne. part of our range. In the past often interpreted broadly to include our spp. 7, 8, and 10.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.