Sweet Fern
Comptonia peregrina (L.) Coult. (Myricaceae)

Common Names
Sweet fern, Canadian sweetgale, fern bush, ferngale, ferngate, meadow fern, shrubby fern, shrubby-sweet fern, spleen fern, spleenwort bush, spleenwort fern, sweet bush, sweet ferry.

A sweet-smelling, many-branched, perennial shrub that grows to 3 feet in height. Small branches are lightly hairy. Leaves are alternate, 3 to 6 inches long, linear, and deeply cleft. Produces fuzzy pistillate flowers in catkins, and inch shiny, brown nutlets.

Flowering Period

Open, sterile woodlands; clearings, pastures, and dry woods.


The U.S. Dispensatory states that a decoction of the plant is used to treat diarrhea. Another authority says the plant has value in treating poison ivy.

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