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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Rocky Mountain Fescue - Festuca saximontana

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Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SU

Agency Status


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General Description
Cespitose (often densely so) perennials. Culms mostly 8-60 cm tall, sometimes sparsely scabrous or hairy below inflorescence. Leaf sheaths closed about halfway; collars glabrous; ligules 0.1-0.5 mm; blades conduplicate, 0.5-1.2 mm in diameter, upper surface scabrous to puberulent, lower surface glabrous to sparsely puberulent. Inflorescence mostly 3-10 cm long, contracted; branches 1-2 per node, usually erect but spreading at anthesis, lower branches with 2 or more spikelets. Glumes shorter than uppermost florets, scabrous distally; lower glumes 1.5-3.5 mm long; upper glumes 2.5-4.8 mm long; lemmas (3-)3.4-4(-5.6) mm long, often scabrous distally, awns (0.4-)1-2.5 mm long; paleas equal to or slightly shorter than lemmas, hairy distally between nerves; antehrs mostly 1.2-2 mm long; ovary apex glabrous (adapted from: Darbyshire & Pavlick, 2007, in Flora N. America, Vol. 24).

Lavin (2012) treats this species in synonymy of Festuca idahoensis. Taxonomic boundaries differ widely among authors, but Kartesz (in prep. 2012) recognizes only subsp. saximontana for MT.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Widespread across much of North America but mostly absent from TX to MO, IL, and east to PA and FL (Kartesz in prep. 2012).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 360

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Probably mostly montane to alpine habitats in Montana (Darbyshire & Pavlick, 2007, in Flora N. America, Vol. 24).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Culver, D.R. 1994. Floristic analysis of the Centennial Region, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 199 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Parks, J.C. 1986. Plant materials for use on disturbed alpine areas in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 57 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Rocky Mountain Fescue — Festuca saximontana.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from