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FutureStarrNew Jersey Tea Ceanothus Americanusor
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) features glossy leaves, numerous bright white flowers and a mounding shape that make this compact shrub a popular garden member. Planted two to three feet apart it forms an attractive low growing hedge, and is an excellent choice for rocky hillsides and slopes, as well. New Jersey Tea requires a well-drained site. The deep tap root makes it very drought tolerant once established. With a slow to moderate growth rate the long-lived plants will mature in 2 to 3 years.
The New Jersey Tea plant (Ceanothus americanus) does not tolerate juglone toxicity, a condition found in the environment beneath Black Walnut trees. The trees produce a chemical called hydrojuglone, which is found in the leaves, stems, fruit hulls, inner bark and roots. When exposed to the air or soil, hydrojuglone is oxidized into the chemical juglone. Juglone is toxic to many plants, but there are also plants that are resistant to the toxins. Our list of plants that can tolerate Juglone toxicity can be found here …The dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period. Smaller Redroot (C. herbaceus), with flowers in a globose cluster and narrower leaves, ranges from Manitoba and western Quebec to western Maine, south to western Georgia, west to Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas. Small-leaved Redroot (C. microphyllus), has tiny leaves, less than 1/2 of an inch (1.3 cm) long, and occurs in sandy pine or oak woods in the South.
The red roots and root bark of New Jersey tea are used by Native Americans in North America for infections of the upper respiratory tract. The leaves have a fresh scent of wintergreen and were later utilized by the European colonizers as a tea substitute and stimulating caffeine-free beverage. The root bark of the plant is used by herbalists today, and are used notably in remedies for problems of the lymph system. The root contains astringent tannins and a number of peptide alkaloids, including ceanothine A-E, pandamine, zizyphine, scutianine, and the adouetines.New Jersey Tea is a deciduous shrub that is native to eastern and central North America and is found in all areas of NC. Its native habitat is open, deciduous woods, woodland edges, oak savannas and meadows. It is low growing with a rounded crown and typically grows to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. In early summer it is covered with fragrant clusters of creamy white flowers. (Source: plants.ces.ncsu.edu)