I Love Comptonia peregrina aka Sweet Fern.

Oct 14, 2022 | Love This!

Name: Comptonia peregrina aka sweet fern.

Type of Plant: A woody plant with a fern-like appearance, that’s a short, nitrogen fixing plant in the bay family.

Why I Love This Plant:  This native plant grows well in pure sand or marshy soils, and is particularly successful in part shade. You’ll often see this on the edges of woodland or roadsides. Like other members of the bayberry family, it spreads through underground rhizomes to form groups. It’s also a very drought resistant plant so perfect for landscapes that aren’t under irrigation. Every Cape Cod landscape should have at least one group of sweet fern!  

A Word to the Wise:   This plant was a traditional medicinal for Native Americans. It can be made into a tea if the leaves are fresh, not dried.

You will frequently find Comptonia growing with other native plants. Here, it’s keeping company with Clethra, aka summersweet, which has donned its yellow fall color.

Although the common name for Comptonia is sweet fern, it’s not a fern. This native plant is a low-growing woody shrub that has the ability to grow in very poor or sandy soils.


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