A long-lived perennial herb of moist, wooded valleys, on rocky slopes, deciduous wood margins and streamsides, especially on seepage lines or by waterfalls. It grows on soils of a moderate base status, often with Luzula sylvatica. 0-330 m (Haweswater, Westmorland).
This species grows in habitats which are sometimes virtually inaccessible, and happens to be frequent in some areas of N. England and Scotland which were not well-recorded for the 1962 Atlas. More thorough recording has revealed that it is much more frequent than previously thought.
European Temperate element.
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Light (Ellenberg): 3
Moisture (Ellenberg): 5
Reaction (Ellenberg): 4
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 2.6
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 13.6
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1410
Height (cm): 120
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 241
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 85
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: 0.83
External Species Accounts
Scarce Atlas Account
Festuca altissima All.
Status: not scarce
This species grows in shaded, fairly dry but humid situations in wooded ravines. It is found in crevices and on small ledges where it forms large, leafy tufts which trap soil around them. It prefers slightly basic conditions and other mildly calcicolous species such as Galium odoratum, Melica spp., Polystichum spp. and Sanicula europaea frequently occur nearby. Its outlying sites in south-east England are on sandstone outcrops. Although it is largely restricted to upland districts, it is restricted to low altitudes, being recorded from sea-level at Roudsea Wood to 300 metres in Ribblesdale.
This is a perennial species and the tufts are evidently long-lived.
There is no indication that this plant is decreasing, and recent more thorough investigations of its rather inaccessible habitat have shown it to be much more frequent than previously thought.
This species is scattered across Europe, extending from northern Spain, Italy and northern Greece to central Norway. It occurs very locally to 90 °E in central Asia.
N. F. Stewart