Ontario Trees & Shrubs website

Comptonia peregrina

Other common names: Fern Gale

French names: Comptonie voyageuse

Family: Bayberry Family (Myricaceae)

Distinctive features: Shrub; Fern-like leaves, aromatic when rubbed.

Leaves: Alternate, Simple, Toothed;  Alternate, simple. Fern-like. Aromatic when rubbed.

Height: 1 m (2-3 ft)

Trunk: Stems are sometimes hairy.

Fruit/Seeds: small nutlets (edible).

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas;  Dry open places, sandy/rocky soil.

Edible: The nutlets are edible. Tea can be made from the leaves.

Books: Shrubs of Ontario: 87   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common in certain areas.

Photographs: 119 photographs available, of which 7 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

The overall plant.

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

Upper side of a leaf. Note the resemblance to a fern leaf, hence the name, "Sweetfern".

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

Underside of a leaf.

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

Hairy stems.

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

A nice tea can be made from the leaves. When making wild teas, remember that most wild teas don't get very dark when steeped. And don't boil the leaves in the water. The correct method is to bring the water to a boil, remove it from the heat, and then add the crushed leaves.

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

A nutlet (edible).

Range map for Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)