Rat's-tail Fescue - Vulpia myuros


Grows up to 70 cm in height with pale green or straw coloured inflorescences and non-inflated leaf sheaths, but with upper sheath reaching the base of inflorescence. Inflorescence is 5 to 30 cm long, interrupted, slender and drooping at the tip. Spikelet 14 to 20 mm long – the upper glume 3 or four times longer than the lower.

Similar Species

Vulpia bromoides, the Squirrel-tail Fescue

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

A sprawling grass. The long, narrow inflorescence is close to a simple spike, but some of the spikelets do have short stalks. The spikelets are arranged alternately up the rhachis, and tend to droop to one side giving the inflorescence a one-sided look. The spikelets have 4-7 florets which are long-awned. There are two special features – the upper glume is at least twice as long as the lower; and the top leaf sheath often encloses the lowest part of the inflorescence.

Recording advice

Photograph details of the glumes and inflorescence - retain a specimen for verification


Railway ballast, dry and well drained soil, roadsides and waste ground.

When to see it

Flowers May to July.

Life History


UK Status

Local and occasional in England and Wales, scarce elsewhere in Britain.

VC55 Status

Occasional in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 75 of the 617 tetrads.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map