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Squirreltail Fescue

Vulpia bromoides

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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, 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 Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, lawns, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, walls.

Green, no petals
The flower is an oblong-shaped panicle, up to 10cm long. Spikelets appear along one side of the stem of the panicle in small clusters. Long-awned. 3 to 10 florets in a spikelet.
A hairless caryopsis, up to 4mm long.
A loosely tufted grass species with flat and linear leaves. Either slightly hairy or hairless.
Other Names:
Barren Fescue, Brome Fescue, Brome Six-weeks Grass, Desert Fescue, European Foxtail Fescue, Fall Panic Grass, Fescue Grass, Hair Grass, Silk Grass, Silver Grass, Six Weeks Fescue, Squirrel Tail, Squirrel Tail Fescue, Squirrel's-tail Fescue, Squirrel-tailed Fescue, Vulpia, Vulpia Hair Grass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Vulpia bromoides, also known as fescue grass, is a species of grass that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a small annual grass that typically grows to a height of 6-12 inches, and it has thin, delicate leaves that are blue-green in color. It is common on a variety of habitats including grassland, sandy soils, and rocky outcrops.

It produces small, inconspicuous, spikelets (flowering structures) that are arranged in dense clusters at the top of the stems. The spikelets are wind-pollinated, and they are usually produced in the spring or early summer.

Vulpia bromoides is considered to be a weed of cultivated land and is often found in fields, gardens, and along roadsides. It can be a problem in crops such as cereals, vegetables, and ornamental plants. it is not much used for forage for livestock or wildlife, as it is not considered to be palatable.

It is also known to be a host for diseases in other plants such as wheat rust, which can cause significant crop damage.

Controlling Vulpia bromoides can be done by using chemical herbicides and mulching, also by proper crop rotation and competition with other plants. The grass can also be pulled by hand if it is found in small areas, or mowed regularly to prevent seed production.


Squirreltail fescue, also known as Vulpia bromoides, is a grass species that is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats including meadows, grasslands, and open forests. This grass is often sought after by homeowners and landscapers for its unique appearance and hardiness.


Squirreltail fescue gets its name from the shape of its seed heads, which resemble the bushy tail of a squirrel. The plant grows to a height of about 1 to 2 feet, with slender, wiry stems and narrow, gray-green leaves that grow in clumps. The seed heads are typically about 3 to 6 inches long and are covered in fine, silky hairs, which give them their distinctive appearance.


Squirreltail fescue is a hardy grass that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. It can grow in full sun or partial shade and can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils. This grass is drought-tolerant and can withstand periods of heat and cold.

Squirreltail fescue can be grown from seed or transplanted from existing plants. When planting from seed, it is important to ensure that the soil is well-drained and that the seed is planted at a depth of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. The seeds should be watered regularly until they germinate, which typically takes about 10 to 14 days.


Squirreltail fescue is often used in landscaping as an ornamental grass. Its unique appearance and hardiness make it a popular choice for borders, rock gardens, and meadows. This grass is also used in restoration projects to help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.

In addition to its aesthetic and practical uses, squirreltail fescue has some ecological value. It provides habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including birds, small mammals, and insects. It also helps to improve soil quality by adding organic matter and preventing erosion.

In conclusion, squirreltail fescue is a unique and hardy grass species that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. Its distinctive appearance and ecological value make it a popular choice for landscaping and restoration projects. If you're looking for an ornamental grass that is both beautiful and practical, squirreltail fescue is definitely worth considering.

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Squirreltail fescue is a cool-season grass, which means it grows actively in the cooler months of the year, typically in spring and fall, and slows down or goes dormant during the warmer months of summer. This can make it an ideal choice for areas with cooler climates, but it can also adapt well to warmer areas with adequate moisture.

One of the advantages of squirreltail fescue is that it doesn't require a lot of maintenance. It can be left to grow naturally or trimmed occasionally to prevent it from becoming too long and floppy. It can also be mowed if desired, although it doesn't necessarily require regular mowing.

In terms of propagation, squirreltail fescue can self-seed, which means it can spread and form new clumps or colonies over time. However, it is not typically considered invasive, and it is unlikely to become a problem in most landscapes.

Squirreltail fescue is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also has some medicinal uses. It has been traditionally used by Native American tribes as a remedy for various ailments, such as sore throats, coughs, and fever. It contains compounds such as alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.

Squirreltail fescue is also known to provide excellent forage for grazing animals, such as sheep and cattle. Its nutritional value is high, and it is well-suited to dry environments, which makes it an ideal choice for ranchers and farmers in arid regions.

Another advantage of squirreltail fescue is its ability to tolerate fire. This grass species has a deep root system that allows it to survive and regrow after fires, making it an important component of fire-adapted ecosystems.

There are also some potential drawbacks to consider when using squirreltail fescue in landscaping or restoration projects. For example, it may not be well-suited to areas with heavy foot traffic or where aggressive plants are present. Additionally, it may not be as effective at erosion control in extremely steep or unstable slopes.

Overall, squirreltail fescue is a valuable grass species that offers a range of benefits and potential uses. Whether you're a landscaper, rancher, or conservationist, it is definitely worth considering as a useful and attractive addition to your land.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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