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Herbarium specimen
Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Vulpia microstachys - small fescue

Synonyms: Festuca microstachys

Other Common Names: little fescue, twoflower fescue, sixweeks grass

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Max Licher @
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Cool and Warm
Habitat Description: Found on dry slopes, rocky hillsides and often in disturbed areas.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: Below 5000 feet

Similar Species: Festuca ciliata, Festuca pauciflora

General Description

Desc: Annual grass with solitary or loosely tufted stems 6 to 30 inches long. Stems may be erect or trailing, sometimes rooting at the nodes. Stems are usually smooth but may be slightly hairy.
Identification notes: Annual; slender, weak, often abruptly bent stems; seedhead branches appressed to erect; spikelets solitary, 1 to 8 flowered, all flowers fertile; lower glumes 1/2 to 3/4 length of upper glume; lemma awns up to 1/2 inch long; paleas usually exceed lemmas.
Grass Type: Annual  Rhizomes: N  Stolons: Y
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: 24 to 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - open and spreading  Seedhead Droops: Y
Flowering Period: Apr - Jun

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: Multi-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: Y
Awns: Less than 1/4 inch   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: N

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedhead is up to 9 inches long and has 2 to 10 drooping, pendulous, widely spreading branches. Spikelets have 3 to 7 bisexual florets that are laterally compressed and often purplish in color.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: N  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Flat or involute  
Blade Notes: Leaf blades are less than 4 inches long and 1/10 inch wide. Leaf blades are smooth and mostly flat but the blade margins may be folded or rolled inward.
Sheath Hairy: Y  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: N  Ligules: Membranous
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: Leaf sheath is hairy or prickly. The ligule is an unfringed smooth membrane.

Forage Value: Forage value is generally low because this grass usually does not stay green very long.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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