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Ceanothus americanus

Phonetic Spelling
say-an-OH-thus ah-mer-ih-KAY-nus
Description

Ceanothus americanus, commonly called New Jersey tea, is a compact, dense, rounded shrub which typically grows 2-3' tall (less frequently to 4').  

Dried leaves of the New Jersey tea were used as a tea substitute, albeit without caffeine, in American Revolutionary War times, hence the common name.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Summer           Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Summer

Wildlife Value:   The New Jersey tea is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant Mottled Duskywing butterfly.  Flowers are highly attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects.  Its seeds are eaten by songbirds. Members of the genus Ceanothus support the following specialized bees: Pseudopanurgus pauper and Pseudopanurgus virginicus.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  The New Jersey tea is susceptible to leaf spot and powdery mildew.

 

 

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#hummingbirds#butterflies#deciduous#birds#songbirds#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#showy#nectar plant#native shrub#low maintenance#winter interest#showy stems#specialized bees#low flammability#NC native#multistemmed#insect pest tolerant#fire resistant#pollinator plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#hummingbirds#butterflies#deciduous#birds#songbirds#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#showy#nectar plant#native shrub#low maintenance#winter interest#showy stems#specialized bees#low flammability#NC native#multistemmed#insect pest tolerant#fire resistant#pollinator plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ceanothus
    Species:
    americanus
    Family:
    Rhamnaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used it as a tea to treat respiratory tract infections.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Canada to Central U.S.A., NC
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Fire in the landscape.
    Edibility:
    Leaves for tea
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Leathery black capsule-like modified drupe 4 mm with three lobes seeds obovate smooth reddish brown and shiny.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The New Jersey tea has cylindrical terminal clusters or panicles (1-2" long) of tiny, fragrant, creamy white flowers (1/8") with five petals that appear on long stalks at the stem ends or upper leaf axils in late spring to summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The New Jersey tea boasts toothed, broad-ovate, to oblong-ovate medium to dark green leaves (to 4" long) which are gray and hairy below. They are alternate, simple and turn yellow to tan in the fall. Cordate at the base, sharply pointed at the tip and finely toothed margins.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Bark Description:
    Brown with shallow pits.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Upright stems, young twigs are noticeably yellow and stand out in winter. Densely pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire