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Wood Fescue

Festuca altissima

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, lawns, riversides, rocky places, waterside, woodland.

Green, no petals
Tall and narrow, many-branched, yellowish-green flowering panicles with upright branches. Awns are absent. The spikelets have 3 to 5 flowers each.
The fruit is a caryopsis.
A perennial, evergreen tussock-forming fescue with broad but linear leaves. The leaves are purplish at the base and rough-edged. Leaf blades are up to 1cm wide. Smooth and hairless. The ligules are about 5mm long.
Other Names:
Tall Fescue.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Festuca altissima, also known as tall fescue, is a species of grass that is commonly found in Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a perennial grass that can grow to a height of 2-3 feet, and it has thin, narrow leaves that are blue-green in color. The species is adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and can tolerate drought, heat, and cold temperatures. It is also tolerant of heavy grazing and foot traffic, which makes it a popular choice for turfgrass, pastures, and lawns.

Tall fescue is typically propagated through seed, and it can be planted either in the spring or the fall. Once established, the grass is relatively low maintenance and requires infrequent mowing. It is also considered to be disease-resistant and can be used in a variety of landscaping and turf applications, including parks, sports fields, and golf courses.

Tall fescue is also used for forage, it is palatable to most livestock species, it withstands heavy grazing, and it can provide high yields in late spring and early summer when other forages may be less productive.

It is also forage for wildlife and beneficial insects. This grass can be a good option for conservation and reforestation program, specially in areas where other grasses are hard to establish.

Overall tall fescue is a versatile and hardy grass that is well-suited to a wide range of landscapes and climates.


Wood Fescue, scientifically known as Festuca altissima, is a species of grass that is native to North America. It is a cool-season perennial that can grow up to 3 feet tall, with narrow, blue-green leaves that have a distinctive waxy coating.

Wood Fescue is commonly found in wooded areas, forests, and meadows, and it thrives in moist, well-drained soils. It is often used in reclamation and restoration projects, as well as in landscaping and gardening.

One of the benefits of Wood Fescue is that it is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal watering and fertilization. It is also relatively pest-resistant, making it a popular choice for those looking for an easy-to-care-for lawn or landscaping option.

In addition to its practical benefits, Wood Fescue is also a beautiful plant that can add a unique and striking element to any landscape. Its distinctive blue-green color and upright growth habit make it a standout feature in gardens and natural areas alike.

Despite its many benefits, Wood Fescue does have some limitations. It is not as tolerant of high foot traffic as some other grasses, so it may not be the best choice for heavily trafficked areas such as sports fields or playgrounds. It also does not tolerate shade well, so it may not be the best option for areas with significant tree cover.

In terms of maintenance, Wood Fescue should be mowed to a height of 2-3 inches, and it should be fertilized once or twice a year. It is also important to keep the soil moist, particularly during the hot summer months.

Wood Fescue is a popular choice for sustainable landscaping, as it is a low-maintenance and eco-friendly plant. It is drought-tolerant, making it a great option for areas with limited water resources, and it also helps to prevent soil erosion, making it a great choice for areas that are prone to erosion.

In addition to its practical benefits, Wood Fescue is also an important part of the ecosystem. It provides food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds and small mammals. It also helps to improve air and water quality, making it an important part of a healthy and sustainable environment.

One of the unique features of Wood Fescue is its ability to thrive in areas with poor soil quality. It is often used in reclamation and restoration projects to help restore areas that have been damaged by human activity, such as mining or logging.

Another benefit of Wood Fescue is its ability to sequester carbon. Like all plants, Wood Fescue absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and stores it in its tissues. This makes it an important tool for mitigating climate change, as it helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

If you are considering adding Wood Fescue to your landscape or garden, it is important to choose a variety that is well-suited to your climate and soil conditions. There are several different cultivars of Wood Fescue available, each with its own unique characteristics and growing requirements.

Wood Fescue is also used in the conservation of endangered species and habitats. In many regions, it is used to restore degraded habitats and provide food and habitat for endangered species such as the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, which is found in the Great Lakes region of the United States.

In addition, Wood Fescue is also used in bioengineering and erosion control projects. It has a fibrous root system that helps to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. It is often used in highway and roadside plantings, as well as in wetland restoration projects.

Another benefit of Wood Fescue is its use in creating green roofs. Green roofs are becoming more popular as a way to reduce urban heat island effects, and Wood Fescue is a popular choice for its ability to tolerate drought and extreme temperatures.

Wood Fescue is also a popular choice for use in native plant gardens. These gardens feature plants that are native to a particular region, and are designed to promote biodiversity and provide habitat for native wildlife.

Wood Fescue is also a popular choice for use in naturalistic and meadow-style gardens. These gardens are designed to mimic the look and feel of natural ecosystems, and they often feature a mix of grasses and wildflowers.

When used in naturalistic gardens, Wood Fescue can provide a striking contrast to other plants and add visual interest to the landscape. Its upright growth habit and distinctive blue-green color make it a standout feature, and it provides a great backdrop for other plants.

In addition, Wood Fescue is often used in rain gardens, which are designed to capture and filter stormwater runoff. The deep root system of Wood Fescue helps to absorb excess water and prevent soil erosion, making it a great choice for these types of projects.

Finally, Wood Fescue is a great choice for those who are looking to create a low-maintenance lawn. Unlike traditional lawns, which require frequent mowing, watering, and fertilizing, Wood Fescue can thrive with minimal maintenance. This can help to save time and money, while also reducing the environmental impact of lawn care.

In summary, Wood Fescue is a versatile and valuable plant that can be used in a variety of landscaping and gardening projects. It provides numerous benefits, from its low-maintenance requirements to its ability to sequester carbon and provide habitat for wildlife. If you are looking for a sustainable and eco-friendly plant for your landscape or garden, Wood Fescue is an excellent choice.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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