New Jersey Tea- Ceanothus americanus, has a long history as a useful plant both in pre colonial times as well as its use as a tea substitute during the revolutionary period. The dried leaves make an excellent caffeine free tea. The tender young branches have an attractive yellow color that contrasts with the new green leaves. As those young branches age they become woody toward the base.
New Jersey Tea has a few other local names, Redroot, Indian Tea, Wild Snowball, Mountain Snowball, Snowbrush, Soapbloom and Mountain Sweet. It is the most popular of three related species in North America. Each is adapted to different regions of the country.
This heavily blooming fragrant shrub is very attractive to honeybees as well as many, many kinds of native pollinator. Hummingbirds along with several species of butterflies and moths are attracted to these flowers. Dozens of other pollinating bees, wasps, beetles and flies use these flowers. Many of these pollinators are predators of common garden pests in other parts of their life cycle. Helping them helps the rest of your garden be more productive.
It is a low growing dense shrub that blooms in June and July. Its rounded shape reaches 3′ to 4′ in height and 4′ to 5′ in width. The flower clusters work well as a fragrant cut flower. The roots and blooms are used as a natural dye. The large red roots of this plant fix nitrogen from the air providing an added benefit to the plants around it. It prefers a dry sandy or loamy soil. This plant works well on difficult sites such as steep banks and rocky soils.