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Ceanothus americanus

Common Name(s):
Mountain snowbell, New Jersey tea
Categories:
Native Plants, Shrubs
Comment:

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

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

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.

Height:
3-4 ft.
Foliage:
The New Jersey tea boasts toothed, broad-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. Its young twigs are noticeably yellow and stand out in winter.
Flower:
The New Jersey tea has cylindrical clusters (1-2" long) of tiny, fragrant, white flowers (1/8") that appear on long stalks at the stem ends or upper leaf axils in late spring.
Zones:
4 to 8
Habit:
Deciduous
Site:
The New Jersey tea is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Does best in sandy loams or rocky soils with good drainage. Its thick, woody, red roots go deep and help plant withstand drought conditions, but make established shrubs difficult to transplant.
Texture:
Medium
Form:
Low, dense, broad spreading shrub; rounded top; slender, upright stems
Exposure:
Sun to partial shade
Fruit:
Long lasting creamy white to light pink flowers in summer; not fragrant
Width:
3-5 ft.
Tags:
insects, winter interest, specialized bees, deciduous, low maintenance, drought tolerant, bees, birds, nectar, pollinator, fragrant, hummingbirds, deer resistant, songbirds, wildlife, butterflies, showy

NCCES plant id: 454

Ceanothus americanus flower detail
Joshua Mayer, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Ceanothus americanus flower & habit
Tom Potterfield, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Ceanothus americanus seed pods
jpoyston, CC BY-NC-2.0