Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Ceanothus americanus

New Jersey tea, Redroot

Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)
Smith, R.W.
New Jersey-tea is a low, upright, deciduous shrub that grows to only 3 ft. tall. Pubescent leaves give the entire plant a grayish cast. Small white flowers occur in 2 in., branch-tip clusters. A low shrub with tiny white flowers in oval clusters rising from the leaf axils on the new shoots. The base is woody, while the upper portion of the plant is made up of herbaceous, spreading branches. Fall color is insignificant.

The dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period. Smaller Redroot (C. herbaceus), with flowers in a globose cluster and narrower leaves, ranges from Manitoba and western Quebec to western Maine, south to western Georgia, west to Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas. Small-leaved Redroot (C. microphyllus), has tiny leaves, less than 1/2 of an inch (1.3 cm) long, and occurs in sandy pine or oak woods in the South.

Image Gallery:

23 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Notes: Normally no more than 3 feet tall, but can reach 5 feet.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Flowers in 2 inch heads
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Que. to FL, w. to MN, e. NE, e. KS & TX
Native Habitat: Open, deciduous woods; woodland edges; oak savannahs; mesic or dry prairies; roadsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, mesic sand, loam, or limey soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Limestone-based
Conditions Comments: This extremely adaptable species can withstand inhospitable conditions because of massive, deep roots. It is quick to recover after fire.


Use Ornamental: Ground cover, Rocky hillside, Low growing, Planned landscape
Use Wildlife: Butterflies use flowers. Turkeys and quail consume seeds.
Use Food: The dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Spring Azure, Summer Azure, Mottled Duskywing
Nectar Source: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Ceanothus americanus is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Spring Azure
(Celastrina "ladon" )

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Mottled Duskywing
(Erynnis martialis)

Larval Host
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Summer Azure
(Celastrina neglecta)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-10-30