Comptonia peregrina

(Linnaeus) J. M. Coulter

Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 5: 127. 1894.

Common names: Sweet-fern comptonie voyageuse
Basionym: Liquidambar peregrina Linnaeus Sp. Pl. 2: 999. 1753, Syst. Nat. ed. 10, 2: 1273. 1759
Synonyms: Comptonia ceterach Mirbel Comptonia peregrina var. asplenifolia (Linnaeus) Fernald Comptonia peregrina var. tomentosa A. Chevalier Myrica asplenifolia (Linnaeus) Kuntze Myrica comptonia Myrica peregrina
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 3.

Shrubs, to 1.5 m, forming rhizomatous colonies. Branchlets red-brown to gray, pilose to villose, sometimes puberulent. Leaves: stipules nearly cordate, long-acuminate. Leaf blade very aromatic when crushed, 3-15.5 × 0.3-2.9 cm, lobes alternate to nearly opposite, base truncate, cuneate to attenuate, or oblique, apex acute; surfaces abaxially pale gray-green, densely pilose to puberulent, adaxially dark green, densely pilose to glabrate, gland-dotted, especially adaxially. Inflorescences: staminate in clusters at ends of branches, elongating to 5 cm, bracts broadly ovate to trullate, margins ciliate, apex acute to long-acuminate, abaxially gland-dotted; pistillate to 5 mm at anthesis, elongating in fruit to 2 cm, bracteoles to 1.3 cm, pilose, gland-dotted. Fruits 2.5-5.5 mm.

Phenology: Flowering spring, fruiting summer.
Habitat: Dry, sterile, sandy to rocky soils in pinelands or pine barrens, clearings, or edges of woodlots
Elevation: 0-1800 m


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N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Conn., Del., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., S.C., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.


Comptonia peregrina has been reported from Tennessee (Scott County), but I have not seen any specimens.

Many Native American tribes used different parts of Comptonia peregrina variously: as an incense for ritual ceremonies; for medicinal purposes; as a stimulant or tonic; as a food seasoning; and as a poison (D. A. Moerman 1986).

Selected References


Lower Taxa

... more about "Comptonia peregrina"
Allan J. Bornstein +
(Linnaeus) J. M. Coulter +
Liquidambar peregrina +
Sweet-fern +  and comptonie voyageuse +
N.B. +, N.S. +, Ont. +, P.E.I. +, Que. +, Conn. +, Del. +, Ga. +, Ill. +, Ind. +, Ky. +, Maine +, Md. +, Mass. +, Mich. +, Minn. +, N.H. +, N.J. +, N.Y. +, N.C. +, Ohio +, Pa. +, R.I. +, S.C. +, Vt. +, Va. +, W.Va. +  and Wis. +
0-1800 m +
Dry, sterile, sandy to rocky soils in pinelands or pine barrens, clearings, or edges of woodlots +
Flowering spring, fruiting summer. +
Mem. Torrey Bot. Club +
W1 +, Endemic +  and Illustrated +
Comptonia ceterach +, Comptonia peregrina var. asplenifolia +, Comptonia peregrina var. tomentosa +, Myrica asplenifolia +, Myrica comptonia +  and Myrica peregrina +
Comptonia peregrina +
Comptonia +
species +