Comptonia peregrina is typically 60 to 120 cm tall and produces leaves that are 5 to 12 cm long and 1.2 to 2.5 cm wide (Dirr, 2011). Comptonia peregrina ‘Blue Sea’ (PP) exhibits a more compact, dense, and uniform habit than is typical for the species. It produces uniformly dark-green foliage with a blue cast (Fig. 1A). The leaves are narrower and finer in texture than the wild C. peregrina (Fig. 1B). ‘Blue Sea’ is like the wild plants in that its foliage produces a sweet fragrance, most noticeably on warm, sunny days. These characteristics make ‘Blue Sea’ more desirable than the straight species for the nursery industry, which is seeking cultivars of North American native species for the ornamental landscape plant market.
C. peregrina is native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia to North Carolina, western South Carolina and northern Georgia, and west to Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Illinois, and Tennessee (Hightshoe, 1988). Plants are cold hardy to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s hardiness zone 4. The shrub is valued for its ability to grow in dry, sandy, and infertile soils with full-sun exposure (Dirr, 2011). In the wild, it occupies dry coniferous woods, exposed gravelly slopes, abandoned pastures, barrens, road cuts, highway embankments, and cut-over forested land (Hightshoe, 1988). C. peregrina can fix nitrogen and form nodules in association with an Actinomycete fungus (Dirr, 2011).
Dirr, M.A. 2011 Manual of woody landscape plants. 6th ed. Stipes Publishing, Champaign, IL
Griffith Gardner, J.A., Lubell, J.D. & Brand, M.H. 2019 Propagation of Comptonia peregrina L. from stem cuttings HortScience 54 511 513 doi: 10.21273/HORTSCI13770-18
Hightshoe, G.L. 1988 Native trees, shrubs and vines for urban and rural America. Wiley, New York, NY
Lubell, J.D. 2013 Evaluating landscape performance of six native shrubs as alternatives to invasives HortTechnology 23 119 125
Lubell, J. & Brand, M. 2011 Propagation medium influences success of sweet fern [Comptonia peregrina (L.) Coult.] rhizome cuttings Propag. Ornam. Plants 11 47 49
Royal Horticultural Society and Flower Council of Holland 1986 Royal Horticultural Society colour chart. RHS, London, U.K