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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Northern Fescue - Festuca viviparoidea
Other Names:  Festuca vivipara, Festuca ovina var. vivipara

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S2?
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Low
CCVI: Moderately Vulnerable

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is only know from a few sites in Glacier National park. Population numbers are apparently very low. However, the species generally occurs in areas and habitats that either are not susceptible or not experiencing negative impacts.
General Description
Perennial bunchgrass. Stems 10–25 cm. Leaves: blades ca. 1 mm wide. Inflorescence a narrow panicle 3–5 cm long. Spikelets of variable length depending on number and size of the vegetative bulblets. Lemmas uncommon, sometimes awn-tipped (Lavin in Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Collected in Glacier County. AK to Greenland south to BC, MT and WY; Asia (Lavin in Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 22

(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)

Grows in moist alpine tundra.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
    Alpine Systems

Threats or Limiting Factors
Reported threats to Montana's populations of Northern Fescue include potential impacts due to trampling by hikers at populations in Glacier National Park (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021). However, severity of impacts is unlikely to lead to population decline in a 10-year time frame.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
Northern Fescue — Festuca viviparoidea.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from