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Comptonia peregrina

Comptonia peregrina (L.) J.M. Coult.

Comptonia peregrina (L.) J.M. Coult. var. aspleniifolia (L.) Fernald

Myrica aspleniifolia L.

Myrica aspleniifolia L. var. tomentosa (A. Chev) Gleason

Myrica peregrina (L.) Kuntze

Sweetfern

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFagalesBirch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others
FamilyMyricaceaeBayberry (sweet gale) family
GenusComptoniaAfter Henry Compton, Bishop of London from 1632-1713, by Sir Josiah Banks
SpeciesperegrinaForeign or exotic, wandering or straggling in growth

About plant names...

Sweetfern is literally in a class by itself, being the only member of genus Comptonia. (The genus is named from Henry Compton, bishop of London from 1632-1713.) Sweetfern is native to eastern North America. Although its foliage is fern-like, it is not actually a fern. Ferns don’t flower, and sweetfern does. The common name refers to the odor of its foliage, not its flowers. The odor is stronger when the leaves are crushed.

Identification: Plants are up to 5' (1.5 m) tall. Stems are woody and strong, red-brown to gray. Leaves are long and narrow—1-6" (3-15 cm) × ⅛-1" (3-30 mm). They are somewhat fernlike in appearance, but on close inspection, the long narrow leaves are not symmetrical like those of ferns. Flowers are inconspicuous light brown catkins at branch ends, 1¼-1¾" (3.2-4.4 cm) long. Seeds resemble burrs, with four to each fruit.

Online References:

Comptonia peregrina on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Comptonia peregrina on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Comptonia peregrina on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Comptonia peregrina on Wikipedia

Comptonia peregrina at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Comptonia peregrina at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Comptonia peregrina on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Comptonia peregrina on www.nrs.fs.fed.us

Comptonia peregrina on eFloras

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

8/12/2009 · Pearl Hill State Park, Townsend, MA
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

A touch of frost. · 11/19/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

8/6/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 17 × 12" (44 × 29 cm)

Comptonia peregrina description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 Nov 2013.

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Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

6/22/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

6/27/2012 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

6/12/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

8/7/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 18 × 14" (45 × 34 cm)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

4/14/2013 · Bemis Rd, Pepperell, MA
≈ 4½ × 3" (12 × 8.3 cm)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 2' (1 × 0.7 m)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweetfern)

7/3/2005 · Pepperell, MA

Range:

About this map...