Comptonia peregrina





  • cold hardy to zone 2
  • performs poorly in zones warmer than 6
  • northeastern United States
  • typically found on gravelly soils along road cuts

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous shrub
  • 2' to 4' tall with a spread twice the height
  • a spreading, colonizing plant
  • stems are slender and upright

Summer Foliage

  • alternate, deciduous leaves
  • 2" to 4.5" long
  • 0.33" to 0.5" wide
  • elongated linear shape
  • coarse, tooth-like lobes on the leaves
  • emerges light green and matures to a dark green
  • foliage somewhat reminiscent of fern fronds
  • foliage fragrant, especially when crushed

Autumn Foliage

  • green to brown
  • not attractive


  • monoecious, with male and female flowers on the same plant
  • flowers are small catkins
  • yellow-green color
  • blooms in April and early may
  • not ornamentally significant


  • a cluster of small nutlets
  • not ornamentally significant


  • old stems are on interesting copper or purplish color
  • stems are shiny or with resin dots


  • full sun to partial shade
  • sandy, peaty, acid soils with low fertility are best
  • does not compete well with other plants in good growing sites
  • has the ability to fix nitrogen
  • can be difficult to transplant and establish; pieces of sod are recommended for best results

Landscape Use

  • difficult sites
  • poor, sterile, sandy soils
  • naturalistic plantings
  • for erosion control on road banks
  • for foliage fragrance
  • as a novelty plant


  • hard to transplant and establish under cultivation
  • not easy to find for sale

ID Features

  • a low, deciduous colonizing plant
  • fern-like leaves
  • foliage aromatic
  • resin dots on stems
  • flowers monoecious catkins


  • by root cuttings
  • by division of sod
  • by juvenile stems cuttings


  • none

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.