Sweet fern, Comptonia peregrina (L.) Coult. according to Fernald (1950), in older literature often referred to as Myrica asplenifolia L. or Comptonia asplenifolia (L.) Ait., is the only species in this genus. It is a low branching, stoloniferous shrub up to a meter and a half tall, with linear-lanceolate leaves that are regularly and deeply pinnatifid giving a fern-like appearance, though it is not at all related to the ferns. It has a characteristic sweet resinous scent. The plants are monoecious or dioecious, flowers are in catkins; staminate catkins are slender and cylindrical; pistillate catkins become a spherical bur-like fruit. Because the shrub spreads by rhizomes, it forms clonal colonies. The family, Myricaceae, includes but two genera according to Fernald (1950): Myrica and Comptonia. The closest relative of Comptonia, Myrica Gale, is also abundant in this area, especially in swamps north of Lake Superior. Fernald ( 1950) gave the range of Comptonia peregrina as extending from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia westward to Manitoba in Canada, and southward and westward in the United States to Virginia, northern Indiana, northeastern Illinois, and Minnesota. Fernald (1950) listed also variety asplenifolia being distinguishable mainly by the smaller stature and more minute hairiness or glabrous condition.
Heino, H. E.
The Excised Embryo Culture Method for Controlled Seedling Growth of the Sweet Fern, Comptonia peregrina, of the Family Myricaceae.
Journal of the Minnesota Academy of Science, Vol. 29 No.1, 180-184.
Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.morris.umn.edu/jmas/vol29/iss1/20