Description from Flora of China
Plants loosely tufted, shortly rhizomatous; shoots extravaginal; basal sheaths reddish brown. Culms 15–60(–100) cm tall, nodes 1–3. Leaf sheaths glabrous or with retrose hairs, occasionally reddish; auricles present as erect swellings or absent; leaf blades setaceous, conduplicate or culm blades flat, 6–30 cm × 0.4–1 mm (to 4 mm when flat), veins 5–7; adaxial to abaxial sclerenchyma strands absent, abaxial sclerenchyma in narrow discrete strands; ligule 0.1–0.5 mm, margin without cilia. Panicle fairly loose, 5–14(–20) cm; branches 1.5–8 cm, scabrid or hairy, 1–4 at lowest node. Spikelets 6–13 mm, green or purple; florets 2–6(–10); glumes smooth or slightly scabrid; lower glume narrowly lanceolate, 2–3.5(–4.5) mm; upper glume broadly lanceolate, 3.5–5.5(–6) mm; rachilla internodes ca. 0.8 mm, pubescent; lemmas smooth, scabrid or pubescent, (4–)5–7(–8) mm; awns (0.3–)1–3.5(–5) mm, rarely awnless; palea keels scabrid toward apex. Anthers (1–)2–3.7 mm. Ovary apex glabrous. 2n = 14, 21, 28, 42, 49, 53, 56, 64, 70.
Festuca rubra is a very polymorphic species, widespread in temperate and cold regions of the N hemisphere, and useful for pastures and lawns. Members of the complex (nos. 35–42) may be identified by the presence of young tiller leaf sheaths that are fused in a tube almost to the top. Look for this character if the leaf sheaths are reddish brown with retrorse hairs and the older leaf sheaths are fibrous. Leaf cross sections of the F. rubra complex are characteristic, with small patches of sclerenchyma under the lower epidermis, but no strands running across the leaf.
There are numerous variants, and many infraspecific taxa have been described. The following subspecies can be recognized in China.
Grassy slopes, roadsides, alpine meadows, other grassy places, in sun or shade; 600–4500 m. Widespread and common in China [temperate regions of N hemisphere].