Festuca rubra – Strong-creeping Red-fescue

Red fescue is a fine-leaved perennial grass of medium height and vigour. Its fine, bristle-like, mid to dark green glossy leaves are probably its most characteristic feature. Its heads are branched typically growing to less than 70cm in height. Red fescue is extremely variable species which can grow in dense tufts or spread out by rhizomes to form patches or carpets of fine leaves. Strong-creeping varieties of red fescue have more vigorous spreading rhizomes and typically form open patches, rather than dense tufts. They are usually classified as Festuca rubra subspecies rubra.

Type Seeds per gram Origin Ordering
Grassland Perennial 1000 Amenity Order this species

Habitat information

Red fescue is a widespread grass species and is a component of many botanically rich grassland communities. It is one of the most frequent grasses of unimproved traditional meadows, along with crested dogs tail and common bent.  It is also common in all kinds of grassy habitats, including banks, verges, pastures, saltmarshes, sea-cliffs, sand dunes, hill grasslands, mountain slopes and rock ledges.

It will grow in all but the most acid or waterlogged soils.  It is a relatively slow growing and stress tolerant grass; it is particularly suited to growing on free draining, low fertility, neutral to calcareous soils.

Growing information

Red fescue seed can be sown at any time of the year when soil conditions are suitable.  It can be moderately quick to germinate from sowing, but being a relatively slow-growing grass, the small fine leaved seedlings will take longer to reach full size and cover (as compared with ryegrass for example).

Once established, red fescue plants are very long-lived and able to withstand considerable nutrient and drought stress.  They are able to spread effectively by creeping vegetative rhizome growth, so are not dependant on seed to regenerate or colonise gaps. Red fescue can be a useful structural component filling out the base of a mown or grazed sward.

Where conditions favour it over other grasses red fescue does have the potential to become dominant. Long-term fescue dominance can be avoided by sowing a balanced mixture including companion grasses like crested dogstail, and by good ongoing management.

Red fescue is tolerant of frequent close mowing or grazing and responds by producing a fine turf. Strong creeping red fescue is not as fine or compact as slender red fescue forms, so more often sown in general purpose amenity grass mixtures typically with amenity ryegrass which can lend added wear tolerance and vigour to the mix.

Red fescue grassland which is left uncut for too long can build up a smothering blanket of dense growth with an accumulation of persistent dead leaf litter (thatch) at its base.  This can sometimes be seen on recently constructed road verges sown with a highways mix containing strong creeping red fescue. This is good for ground cover but not so good for plant diversity. Good management (mowing) can help prevent this.

Mature red fescue leaves can get quite tough, wiry and have a glossy surface; they are good at resisting a scythe.  Mowing a thick red fescue sward can be quite a challenge as the blade is prone to sliding up over the leaves, flattening rather than cutting through them.  A really keenly sharpened well set blade is needed; keep the blade close to the ground and hone frequently.  In well-managed diverse grassland red fescue typically only contributes a small proportion of the grass to be cut so is unlikely to be an issue except in occasional patches.

Fresh growth of red fescue is quite palatable to livestock and has a long growing season.  As such it  can provide useful grazing as a bottom grass in meadows and pastures, particularly on unproductive low-input fields on which more productive grasses struggle. The vigour of Strong creeping red fescue makes it the most suitable type for sowing in grazing mixtures with productive grasses like ryegrass and cocksfoot. Red fescue is however less palatable than lush ryegrass and may be rejected by livestock if, with lax grazing, the fescue plants are allowed to accumulate older tougher leaves.

Ordering

You can order any quantity of this species from 1g up to 250000g. Please contact us if you require more.

nb: 1kg = 1000g, 0.1kg = 100g

Prices include p&p to most mainland destinations, more on delivery charges.

Prices

£/1kg £5.00
£/100g £4.00
£/10g £3.00
£/1g £1.50

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