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New Jersey Tea

© Iralee Barnard

Common Name: New Jersey Tea

Scientific Name: Ceanothus herbaceus

Family: Buckthorn

Longevity: Perennial Shrub

Height: 1.5 - 2.5 feet


Bloom Period: April and May



Description: Woody stems are erect and many-branched. Leaves are alternate, oblong and prominently three-veined. White flowers with five, small, pipe-shaped petals (narrow at the base) are borne in round clusters at the branch tips.

Comments: As the name suggests, the leaves may be used to make a pleasing tea. The three-lobed fruits form in June and blacken with age. Seeds are eaten by birds. Plants are the larval host and nectar source for mottled duskywing butterflies. New Jersey Tea does not form thickets, but dense foliage provides shade, which is important to the survival of young grassland birds during summer heat. Often called “redroot,” because of the root color, the roots fix atmospheric nitrogen, which makes it available to adjacent plants. New Jersey Tea grows on rocky upland slopes and ridges in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas.