T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Festuca novae-zelandiae (Hard tussock)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Monocots
(Unranked): Commelinids
Order:    Poales
Family:    Poaceae
Genus:  Festuca
Species: F. novae-zelandiae
Binomial name: Festuca novae-zelandiae
Synonyms: Carex novae-zelandiae, Festuca ovina subsp. matthewsii, Festuca ovina var. novae-zelandiae, Festuca ovina subsp. novae-zelandiae var. eu-novae-zelandiae, Festuca ovina subsp. novae-zelandiae var. novae-zelandiae subvar. novae-zelandiae, Festuca ovina subsp. novae-zelandiae var. novae-zelandiae subvar. pruinosa
Common Names: Fescue tussock, Hard tussock, Sheep’s fescue, Tawny tussock 

Festuca novae-zelandiae is a long-lived, caesptiose (growing in dense tufts) grass indigenous to New Zealand. It is a common component of low tussock grasslands in dry, windy and cold central plains and grows to a height of 70cm and a spread of 0.4m. It grows in both the North and South Island. It is present on the Pouakai Ranges Mt Egmont/Taranaki National Park.  In alpine areas at lower altitudes Festuca novae-zelandiae) is associated with the narrow-leaved snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida). 

The tawny leaves are 15-60cm long and have a width of 0.5-1mm. They are rough to touch and have sharply pointed tips. The margins are tightly in rolled giving the leaf a cylindrical appearance. The flowering stems are up to 70 cm tall with a 5-12 cm long open flowering panicle. 

Photographed at OtariNativeBotanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve. Wellington.