Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping
West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program
|Form:||Low (1 to 3 feet), open-branched plant with fern-like appearance sometimes forming dense stands.|
|Bark and Twigs:||Twigs slender, slightly zig-zag, brown to purplish and usually more or less hairy; no terminal bud; lateral buds very small. Breaking of stems releases distinctive fragrant odor.|
|Leaves:||Deciduous, alternate, simple, linear and notched - thus appearing like a row of rounded triangles held in line by the midrib. Aromatic when crushed, upper surface dark green, both surfaces sprinkled with tiny yellowish dots.|
|Flowers:||Tiny and inconspicuous (April-June).|
|Fruit:||A beaked nutlet held between two thickened bractlets; about ½" long, (Sept.-Oct.).|
Uses: Low border, ground cover for dry, sterile soils.
Light: Partial shade to full sunlight.
Soil Moisture: Dry, well-drained, sterile, sandy soils.
Soil pH: Acid.
Problems: Sweet Fern is the alternate host of sweetfern blister rust (Cronartium comptoniae) which can infect all hard pines.
Compiled by: Robert Deal, nurseryman and Professor of Biology/Botany Glenville State College, Glenville, West Virginia
Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program
Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core