Bear-skin fescue (Festuca gautieri)



Bear-skin fescue is a perennial tussock grass that grows to around 20 cm high. This grass has a low palatability to stock and may become a dominant species in suitable habitats such as the southern highlands of NSW. It has been traded as a garden ornamental in recent years. This species is not yet known to have escaped cultivation in Australia.


Bear-skin fescue is native to south western France and north eastern Spain. It is a weed of grazing land in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Bear-skin fescue was introduced into Australia as an ornamental garden plant. This species has now been banned for sale or distribution in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.


Bear-skin fescue flowers in summer and can spread vegetatively or by seed. Old plants tend to spread outwards while dying back in the centre of the tussock.


Bear-skin fescue grows in small round pin cushion like tussocks.


The leaves are very fine and thread-like, only 0.4-0.7 mm wide with a pointed tip. The leaf blade is smooth and can be straight or curved. Leaves can be bright green to bluish grey.


The seed head stems are 20-50 cm long and up to 1.7 mm in diameter. The flowers form on a 4.5-7 cm long seed head (panicle). Each panicle bears a few flowers (spikelets) that are 9-11 mm long.


The seeds are broadly oval-to-oblong shaped.


Bear-skin fescue prefers well drained soils and cooler climates but is drought and heat tolerant.


Prepared by Stephen Johnson and Annie Johnson.

Technical review by John Hosking, Royce Holtkamp, Andreas Glanznig (WWF Australia), Rod Randall (Agriculture Western Australia), and Department of Primary Industries Victoria.

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Little information on the control of bear-skin fescue is available. If you have planted bear-skin fescue or know someone who has, contact your Local Council Weeds Officer for advice. 

Before removing this species, cut off all seed heads, bag them and place in landfill. Dig up and remove adult plants, any fallen seed and any soil containing seed around the plant. Place this material in landfill.

Monitor sites where the species has been planted to ensure seedlings that emerge are controlled before flowering and that spread of the plants has not occurred.

Herbicide options

Contact your local council weeds officer for control advice for Bear-skin fescue (Festuca gautieri).

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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Reviewed 2014