Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Name: Comptonia peregrina - Sweet Fern
Bloom Time: April - May
Flower: male: brown catkins, female: greenish yellow flowers
Soil Condition: dry-moist-wet, acidic
Light: Sun to Partial Shade
Height: 2-4' tall x 4-8' wide
Native Range: Eastern North America including Long Island
Zone: 2 - 7
Comptonia peregrina is not a fern at all! It's a fantastic small shrub found in the Pine Barrens of Long Island. It's great for difficult spots, but it does need a lot of space. Once established, it suckers quickly to form a colony. Its fern-like foliage is a great texture in the garden and gives it a tropical appearance. The aromatic foliage may be used in teas. The small nuts, enclosed in a bur-like husk, make a simple snack for humans and critters.
Maintenance: Sweet Fern does not transplant easily, so pick its final location carefully.
Benefits: Host plant to the Gray Hairstreak, Io Moth and several Sphinx Moths, birds eat the 'nutlets', erosion control due to suckering habit, fixes its own nitrogen, deer and rabbit resistant, road salt tolerant
Pinus strobus - Eastern White Pine, Cornus alterniflora - Pagoda Dogwood, Monarda fistulosa - Wild Bergamot, Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed, Vaccinium corymbosum - Highbush Blueberry
pics: KMS Native Plants LLC