Also known as redroot, the New Jersey tea plant is from the buckthorn family of plants. It is native to the United States and is botanically known as Ceanothus americanus.
New Jersey Tea Description
Growing to three feet high, this low deciduous shrub has a grayish look. Leaves are simple and green while flowers are small and white. Blooms are on the tips of the branches in clusters, blooming between March and April. The top of the shrub has spreading branches while the lower base is woody. It doesn’t have significant fall color.
The New Jersey tea prefers to grow in partial shade to full shade lighting conditions and in well-drained soil that is nearly neutral in pH. It has deep roots and can be very adaptable. Propagate by softwood cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings, and by seed. Seed need scarification and two to three months of cool stratification.
This native is found growing in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. It is seen in savannahs, prairies, and roadsides.
The seeds are eaten by turkey and quail. It is also a larval host plant for the Spring Azure, Summer Azure, and the Mottled Duskywing butterflies.
This nitrogen-fixing shrub has leaves that can be dried to make tea. This tea was popular during the Revolutionary War. It looks good as plant for rocky hillsides.