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 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.
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 description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Nov 2013.