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New Jersey Tea

( Ceanothus americanus )

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New Jersey Tea
Red Root
Rhamnaceae
Ceanothus
Ceanothus americanus
Linnaeus
Canothus americanus var. intermedius
Ceanothus americanus var. pitcheri
Ceanothus intermedius
Characteristics

Shrub

Deciduous

4

Sun, Partial Shade

Sand, Loam

Dry, Normal, Moist

Yes

No

No

No
Habitat Considerations

Boreal Shield, Mixedwood Plains, Boreal Plains

Woodland, Savannah, Forest Edge, Prairie/Meadow/Field, Rocky Bluff

Rooftop Garden (drought tolerant/shallow rooted), Butterfly, Bird, Woodland, Prairie/Meadow
Design Considerations

90 cm

120 cm

May - Jun

White/Cream

Yes

No

Brown


Spring Azure| Summer Azure butterfies| Mottled Duskywing

No

No

No

No

No

No

Birds, Butterflies, Butterfly Larvae, Other Showy Insects

No
Conservation Status

No


Interesting Tidbits

Branches reddish brown to gray. Great butterfly nectar plant. (Ontario Native Plants 2002) The dried leaves of this nitrogen fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period. (Niering) The roots and root bark of New Jersey tea was used extensively by Aboriginals to treat fevers and problems of the mucous membranes such as catarrh and sore throats. Current day usage of the roots concentrates on their astringent, expectorant and antispasmodic actions and they are employed in the treatment of complaints such as asthma, bronchitis and coughs (in homeopathic medicine). (Chevallier. A.) A green dye is obtained from the flowers. (Grae. I.) A cinnamon coloured dye is obtained from the whole plant. (Grieve.) A red dye is obtained from the root. (Saunders. C. F.) This plant will also grow well on rocky hillsides and limestone based soil. (Wildflower Centre, LBJ) Habitat Information: This plant is one of the few shrubs common to Tall Grass Prairie habitats in southern Ontario. (Tall Grass Ontario) Its habitat includes sandy, rocky or loamy soils. (Illinois Wildflowers) Nitrogen fixing capabilities; has nodes along the roots which contain bacteria and take nitrogen from the atmosphere, converting it into a form that plants can use. (Evergreen) Elk, deer, rabbit, and livestock readily eat this plant, habitat for this plant is affected if over grazing occurs. (Illinois Wildlflowers) Garden Uses: Drought tolerant, tuberous tap roots, an adaptation to severe prairie and savannah drought in its natural habitat, makes this plant great for the most parched garden. This plant has a low key presence, with its tiny white flowers. (Evergreen) Edible and Medicinal Uses: The fruit is edible, but variable quality, with one long pulpy and juicy fruit 15 mm long with thick skin. The fruit is said to be best after a frost (Plants for a Future) Insect Relationships: Occasionally butterflies and moths, wasps include mud daubers, beetle wasps, sand wasps, spider wasps, and crabronine wasps. Flies that visit are syrphid flies, thick headed flies, tachinid flies, blow flies, muscid flies, and others. Butterfly caterpillars include Celestrina argiolus (spring/summer azure) and the skipper Erynnis martialis (mottled duskywing). The caterpillars of a few moths include Hesperymia sulphuraria (sulfur moth), Nemoria rubrifrontaria (red fronted emerald), and Erastria coloraria (broad lined erastria). Sometimes Mordella spp. (tumbling flower beetles) eat the flowers. (Illinois Wildflowers) The mottled duskywing butterfly is a rare species. (Tall Grass Ontario) This plant is very ecologically important as is it the larval (catarpillar) host for the Karner blue butterfly, now extirpated from Canada. (Evergreen) Green Roof Applications: This drought hardy plant has been grown in soil levels 5 inches and up with good results. (Evergreen)


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