Leucopoa kingii (S. Wats.) W.A. Weber
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Festuca confinis Vasey
Festuca kingii (S. Watson) Cassidy
Hesperochloa kingii (S. Watson) Rydb.
Poa kingii S. Watson
Life Span: Perennial
Growth Characteristics: Spike fescue is a tufted and rhizomatous grass, growing 12-39 inches tall. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants.
Seedhead: Its seedhead is a panicle 3-9 inches long with erect or spreading branches that produce spikelets to the base. Spikelets contain 3-4 florets with male spikelets slightly larger than female spikelets. Glumes are unequal and 1/8 – 1/4 inch long with the first glume smaller than the second. Lemmas are up to 1/3 inch long, rough or hairy and sharp.
Leaves: Leaf blades are 5½-16 inches long, erect, smooth, flat or loosely rolled and stiff. Ligules are short and squared-off with an uneven and hairy margin. Sheaths are conspicuous and persisting, closed only at the base and smooth or with backward hairs on the lowest individuals.
Spike fescue occurs in or near the mountainous areas of Utah where annual precipitation is ≥12”. It is found in habitats from dry sagebrush plains to subalpine meadows at elevations from 5,500-11,700’. It commonly grows on exposed rocky slopes and ridges.
Soils: Found on medium-fine textured, rocky soils.
Associated Species: Associated species include big sagebrush, snowberry, slender wheatgrass, sandberg bluegrass, prairie junegrass, Idaho fescue, pinyon, juniper, rabbitbrush, Gambel oak, Utah serviceberry, aspen, ponderosa pine and limber pine.
Uses and Management:
Spike fescue is rarely abundant enough to provide much forage for livestock and wildlife. It provides some erosion control by virtue of its rhizomatous character.