Ceanothus americanus

new jersey tea, céanothe d'amérique, jersey tea, new jersey tea, redroot


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Margin


Leaf Type


Leaf Shape

lanceolate, ovate

Growth Form

forb, shrub

Flower Color


Flower Petals


Flower Month

May - June

Height (meters)

0.8 - 1.0

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Cultural Information

Ceanothus americanus prefers light, well-drained soil in sunny locations. Seed is the best method for propagating this plant in quantities. Germination is slow, and seeds benefit from scarification and cold/moist stratification at 33-40 degrees F for 60-90 days (Shirly 1994, Steffen 1997). A 30 second hot-water soak at near boiling is reported to speed germination (Smith and Smith 1980). Seeds are ejected from the plant when dry, so the fruit should be picked before dehiscence and the seed removed. There are 112,000 seed/lb and the recommended planting rate is 17 lbs/acre. Seeds may be planted in spring or fall, but spring is considered best. Plants bloom in 3-4 years from seed. Softwood stem cuttings taken in the spring may be rooted under mist. Propagation by division is best performed in the fall. New Jersey Tea is widely cultivated, and there are several ornamental varieties of Ceanothus.

Animal Use

Attracts hummingbirds. It is a favorite browse for deer and a good nectar source for butterflies. Charles Robertson, 1928: (Bees collect pollen or suck nectar; other insects suck nectar; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Moure & Hurd and Graenicher as indicated below) Bees (long-tongued) Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus, Bombus griseocallis; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada articulata; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis; Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades leavitti Bees (short-tongued) Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea (MH), Agapostemon splendens (MH), Agapostemon virescens (MH), Augochlora purus purus (MH), Augochlorella striata, Halictus confusus, Halictus ligatus (MH), Halictus parallelus (MH), Halictus rubicunda (MH), Lasioglossum cinctipes, Lasioglossum forbesii, Lasioglossum imitatus, Lasioglossum pectoralis, Lasioglossum truncatus, Lasioglossum versatus; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes cressonii, Sphecodes minor; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes eulophi, Colletes latitarsis (LB), Colletes willistoni; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis, Hylaeus mesillae; Melittidae: Macropis steironematis fq; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena crataegi, Andrena nigrifrons; Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis Wasps Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Lestica confluentus, Oxybelus emarginatus, Oxybelus frontalis, Oxybelus packardii, Oxybelus uniglumis; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Tachysphex acuta, Tachysphex belfragei; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris compacta, Cerceris compar, Cerceris clypeata, Cerceris finitima, Cerceris rufinoda, Cerceris rufopicta; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta; Vespidae: Polistes dorsalis, Polistes fuscata; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus adiabatus, Eumenes fraterna, Euodynerus foraminatus, Leionotus ziziae (Rb, MS), Parancistrocerus fulvipes, Stenodynerus fundatiformis, Stenodynerus oculeus; Pompilidae: Anoplius illinoensis, Anoplius marginatus, Anoplius nigritus, Anoplius tenebrosus, Ceropales robinsonii, Poecilopompilus interrupta; Chrysididae: Hedychrum violaceum; Leucospidae: Leucospis affinis Sawflies Argidae: Arge humeralis Flies Scaridae: Sciara atrata; Stratiomyidae: Nemotelus glaber; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua, Eupeodes americanus, Orthonevra nitida, Paragus bicolor, Sphaerophoria contiqua, Syritta pipiens, Toxomerus geminatus, Toxomerus marginatus, Tropidia mamillata, Tropidia quadrata; Empidae: Empis clausa; Bombyliidae: Hemipenthes sinuosa, Villa lateralis (Gr); Conopidae: Physoconops brachyrrhinchus, Stylogaster biannulata, Thecophora occidensis, Zodion fulvifrons; Tachinidae: Acroglossa hesperidarum, Archytas analis, Archytas aterrima, Copecrypta ruficauda, Cylindromyia euchenor, Gymnoclytia occidua, Linnaemya comta, Ocyptera arcuatus, Paradidyma singularis, Phasia purpurascens, Siphona geniculata; Sarcophagidae: Amobia signata, Sarcophaga sinuata; Calliphoridae: Helicobia rapax, Lucilia caesar, Lucilia sericata, Phormia regina; Muscidae: Limnophora narona, Morellia micans, Musca domestica, Neomyia cornicina; Anthomyiidae: Anthomyia acra; Sepsidae: Sepsis violacea; Tephritidae: Dioxyna picciola Butterflies Lycaenidae: Satyrium acadica, Satyrium calanus Beetles Cantharidae: Rhagonycha scitulus; Cerambycidae: Typocerus sinuatus; Chrysomelidae: Diabrotica cristata, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, Pachybrachis infaustus; Curculionidae: Centrinaspis picumna, Centrinaspis strigicollis, Odonotocorynus scutellum-album; Dermestidae: Cryptorhopalum haemorrhoidalis; Elateridae: Limonius griseus; Melyridae: Attalus scincetus; Mordellidae: Mordella marginata; Oedemeridae: Oxycopis thoracica; Scarabaeidae (Cetonniae): Trichiotinus piger Plant Bugs Miridae: Adelphocoris rapidus, Lygus lineolaris; Lygaeidae: Lygaeus turcicus

Natural History

New Jersey Tea is found in upland prairie remnants, glades, and open woods through the eastern United States. Prefers sandy soils, a neutral pH of 6.2-7 and mesic to dry habitats. It is a dominant species in mesic areas of mixed-grass prairies in the Midwest. The leaves are used in tea (hence its common name) both fresh and dried. They should be harvested from flowering plants and dried in the shade. The deep growing, heavily branched taproots gave this plant one of its early names, rupture root (Shirley 1994).


Mixed deciduous forest and forest margins, sandy soils, prairies, spreading to roadsides and clearings throughout.

Plant Uses

This tea was used as a patriotic substitute for black tea during the Revolutionary War (Kindscher 1987).