small specimen shoot with leaves

This is a roadside shrub in a rural area of Eastern Ontario, Canada, about 1-2 metres tall and 1-2 metres wide. Stands in the company of seedlings of basswood, birch, ash, hickory, and perennial goldenrod and fall asters in sandy loam over hard granite, not limestone. Leaflets are alternate, 7-10 cm. long and 1 cm. wide, the specimen in the image is about 25 cm. long. The leaf surface is quite bubbly uneven close to the main rib. Petioles are clasping and enclose buds that have downy white hairs particularly at the tip. Young bark is light brown with very small light dots, mature bark is darker. I have never seen any flowers. The shrub survives -30C and below without damage to above ground twigs.

I'm not sure of the right terminology for the leaf shape, any suggestions from taxonomists?

1 Answer 1


Comptonia peregrina (Sweet Fern) native to eastern Canada.

This is the only species in the genus, and the listed confusions do not match your photo nor your description. Confirmed by https://identify.plantnet.org/ with a likelihood of 91%.

I think the RHS description of the leaves are very accurate: "fern-like in appearance and divided into rounded leaflets", and I would like to add "lanceolate", which is a common taxonomical term.

The flowers are small catkins borne before the leaves appear. Perhaps you did not notice them.

No sources I have read mention "enclose buds that have downy white hairs", but all other elements of your very detailed description are in accordance to the sources I have referenced.

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