Photo Courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension
Vulpia octoflora (Walt.) Rydb.
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Festuca octoflora Walter
Life Span: Annual
Growth Characteristics: Sixweeks fescue has solitary stems or stems in small tufts generally 3-12” tall. Under unusually wet conditions it may grow to 24” tall. It is erect or occasionally bent upward at the lower nodes. Sixweeks fescue is shallow rooted and easily pulled from the soil.
Seedhead: Its seedhead is a panicle 1-4” long with short branches compressed against the rachis. Spikelets contain 5-15 florets. Glumes are unequal with the first being awl-shaped, sharp, and ¼ inch long. The second glume is narrow, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and sharp or with an awn tip. Lemmas are compressed, up to 1/4 inch long; smooth or rough to hairy; with inrolled, slightly membranous margins; and long-tapered to a short awn.
Leaves:Leaf blades are narrow and boat-shaped. Sheaths are smooth or with backward hairs. Ligules are very short and auricles are absent.
Sixweeks fescue occurs in most of Utah but is common in Southern Utah in cottonwood-desert willow-baccharis, shadscale, greasewood, sueda, creosotebush, blackbrush, bursage, sagebrush and pinyon-juniper communities. It is found at elevations from 2,500-6,500’.
Soils:It is adapted to a wide range of soils and soil textures but is most common on sterile, rocky ground and disturbed areas.
Associated Species: Associated species include cheatgrass, red brome, creosotebush, bursage, big sagebrush and storksbill.
Uses and Management:
Sixweeks fescue is generally so small that it provides little forage for large animals. It may be used by desert tortoise and small desert animals since it is common in their habitats. It provides little erosion control.