New Jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus
  • LEAVES: mostly narrow, elliptical; 1-3 inches long and half as wide; pubescent leaves give the entire plant a grayish appearance
  • FLOWER: small, with 5 white petals, inflorescences on axillary peduncles as long as or longer than leaves flowering May-July
  • FRUIT: three-lobed, dry, dehiscent capsule; matures August through early October
  • TWIGS: distal branches typically herbaceous
  • BARK: younger stems tan and pubescent with a mix of long shaggy hairs and short curled hairs; older stems with brown, thin, slightly rough bark retaining some short pubescence
  • FORM: low, upright subshrub or shrub with slender ascending branches; 1-3 feet tall
  • HABITAT: understory of dry-mesic upland longleaf pine and shortleaf pine-oak-hickory woodlands; dry prairies
  • RANGE: eastern North America: all states south and east of South Dakota; range from Quebec to Florida, west to Texas and north to Minnesota.  [MAP]
  • USES: browsed by white-tailed deer throughout growing season; quail utilize seeds
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. low-growing subshrub or shrub to 3 ft. tall
    2. leaves alternate simple, lanceolate to ovate, strongly three-nerved, veins arcuate
    3. Showy white inflorescences on long axillary peduncles

    NOTE: The dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the American Revolutionary War period.