Festuca matthewsii subsp. matthewsii
Matthews’s fescue, blue fescue
Festuca ovina subsp. matthewsii Hack.; Festuca ovina var. matthewsii (Hack.) Cheeseman; Festuca petriei Howarth; Festuca petriei f. petriei
Vascular – Native
2n = 42
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (east and west of Main Divide from Waiau River, Canterbury, to Fiordland, occasional in Marlborough).
Montane to alpine in tussock grassland.
Smooth soft to stiff green or glaucous tufted or occasionally shortly stoloniferous tussock with long wide-angled inflorescences of evidently awned florets held high above hexagonal leaf-blades from swollen collars. Branching intravaginal. Leaf-sheath 30-110 mm, glabrous, keeled centrally, ridged elsewhere, much wider than leaf-blade, stramineous, margins becoming membranous; apical auricles 0.6-1.5 mm, rounded, shortly ciliate. Ligule as for auricles. Collar conspicuously thickened. Leaf-blade 100.0-300.0 × 0.5-0.8 mm, mostly hexagonal, ribbed, undersides glabrous except for scabrid tip rarely minutely scabrid elsewhere, upper surface and margins abundantly covered in short, white hairs. Culm 0.25-1.0 m, usually » leaves, nodes black, lowermost often geniculate, internodes smooth, often slightly scabrid below inflorescence node. Panicle rather open, 70-200 mm, with 5-10 nodes, of 15-50 spikelets, branches pulvinata, flexible and widely divergent sometimes contracted, basal branches 20-100 mm solitary or occasionally binate, with 3-5 spikelets, naked below, branches becoming progressively shorter and uppermost 3-4 spikelets solitary on short pedicels; rachis, branches and pedicels prickle-toothed to sparsely so becoming smooth or almost so. Spikelets 9-20 × 3-5 mm wide, stramineous or sometimes bronze or slightly purpled, of 4-8 florets. Glumes unequal, keeled, centrally green to stramineous occasionally with purpled veins, triangular acute to obtuse, apex ciliate; lower 3-6 mm, l-nerved, upper 3.5-8.0 mm, 3-5-nerved. Lemma 5-9 mm, lobes 0 or very small, rounded on back becoming keeled above, prickle-teeth below on outer nerve and on margin, and above near awn; awn 1-4 mm. Palea 4.5-9.0 mm, frequently < lemma, long acute, deeply bifid, keels prickle-toothed to base or almost so, interkeel hairs mostly in upper 1/3, margins of flanks ciliate above sometimes to base. Callus 0.2-0.4 mm, centrally glabrous very shortly bearded laterally; articulation oblique to ± flat. Rachilla 1.0-1.6 mm, short stiff hairy. Lodicules 0.6-1.5 mm, greater than or equal to ovary, often lobed, frequently hair-tipped. Anthers 2-4 mm, yellow or yellow-purpled. Ovary 0.6-1.0 mm, hispid hairs at apex; stigma-styles 1.5-2.5 mm. Seed 3-4 mm.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
October - December
November - March
Florets are dispersed by wind, water and attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. An attractive grass tolerant of most conditions but dislikes humidity.
festuca: From the Latin festuca ‘stem’ or ‘blade of grass’
matthewsii: After Mathews
Where To Buy
Occasionaly available from specialist native plant nurseries.
Description modified from Edgar and Connor (2000)
References and further reading
Edgar, E.; Connor, H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. V. Grasses. Christchurch, Manaaki Whenua Press. 650 pp.
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309