Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
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  • New Jersey Tea

    SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ceanothus americanus

    COMMON NAME: New Jersey Tea, Mountain Snowbell, Wild Snowball, American Ceanothus, Redroot, Jersey Tea

    BLOOM TIME: June, July, Aug


    • Small branched shrub up to 3 ft. tall.
    • Herbaceous upper branches with alternate toothed leaves 4 in, x 2 ½ in,
    • Curly hair on stems.
    • Upper leaf surface is hairy, low leaf surface is gray and velvety
    • White flowers have a pleasant fragrance & are clustered on long stalks; Petals are hooded, resembling miniature ladles
    • Name refers to American colonists using leaves as a patriotic tea substitute during the Revolutionary War, after Boston Tea Party as a tea substitute.
    • Early pioneers discovered the stout roots were a formidable barrier to the plow.
    • This tea contains no caffeine.
    • Native Americans used tea to treat colds, fever, snakebites, constipation & as a blood tonic.
    • Habitat: woodlands & prairies; sun & drought tolerate. It shoots seeds up to several feet away,
    • Indicator of a high quality prairie.
    • Chemical compounds from this plant have been found to affect the speed of blood coagulation & have antimicrobial properties on oral pathogens.


    • Nectar & pollen attract insects, especially bees, wasps, flies, & beetles. 
    • Hairstreak butterflies also visit the flowers.
    • Larvae of several moths feed on New Jersey Tea foliage.
    • Foliage & stems readily consumed by mammalian herbivores, including elk (native in Illinois at one time), deer, rabbits, and livestock.
    • Some upland gamebirds, Wild Turkey & Bobwhite Quail, consume as a food source.