|New Jersey Tea|
Ceanothus americanus is a species of shrub native to North America. Common names include New Jersey tea, Jersey tea ceanothus, variations of red root (red-root; redroot), mountain sweet (mountain-sweet; mountainsweet), and wild snowball. New Jersey Tea was a name coined during the American Revolution, because its leaves were used as a substitute for imported tea.
Ceanothus americanus is a shrub growing between 18–42 inches high, having many thin branches. Its root system is thick with fibrous root hairs close to the surface, but with stout, burlish, woody roots that reach deep into the earth—root systems may grow very large in the wild, to compensate after repeated exposures to wildfires. White flowers grow in clumpy inflorescences on lengthy, axillary peduncles. Fruits are dry, dehiscent, seed capsules.
Ceanothus americanus is common on dry plains, prairies, or similar untreed areas, on soils that are sandy or rocky. It can often be located in forest clearings or verges, on banks or lakeshores, and on gentle slopes.
Ceanothus americana is found in Canada, in Ontario and Quebec. In the U.S., it is found in Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; northern and central Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Louisiana; Maine (in Oxford and Penobscot counties); Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North and South Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; eastern and central Texas; Vermont; West Virginia; Wisconsin; and Virginia
The flowers of C. americanus are used as food by (and the shoots host the larvae of) butterflies in the genus Celastrina, including Spring Azure, and Summer Azure; and by Erynnis martialis (the Mottled Duskywing) and Erynnis icelus (the Dreamy Duskywing).
Constituents and medicinal use
The red roots and root bark of New Jersey tea were commonly used by North American Indians for infections of the upper respiratory tract. The leaves have a fresh scent of wintergreen and were later utilized by the white settlers as a tea substitute and stimulating caffeine-free beverage. All plant parts are commonly prescribed by herbalists today. Root and flower extracts can also be used as dyes. The crude root drug contains astringent tannins and a number of peptide alkaloids, including ceanothine A-E, pandamine and many others. They have a mild hypotensive effect.
- C. americanus was first described and published in Species Plantarum 1: 195. 1753. "Plant Name Details for Ceanothus americanus". IPNI. Retrieved August 16, 2010. "Distribution: Virginia, Carolina, United States of America (Northern America)."
- "Name - Ceanothus americanus L.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- Coladonato, Milo (1993). "Ceanothus americanus". Fire Effects Information System (online). Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer): U.S.D.A; Forest Service. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- GRIN (August 8, 1995). "Ceanothus americanus information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- C. americanus var. intermedius was published in A Flora of North America, 1(2): 264. 1838."Name - Ceanothus americanus var. intermedius (Pursh) Torr. & A.Gray". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- C. americanus var. pitcheri was published in A Flora of North America, 1(2): 264. 1838. "Name - Ceanothus americanus var. pitcheri Torr. & A.Gray". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- C. intermedius was published in Flora Americae Septentrionalis. ... 1: 167. 1814. "Name - Ceanothus intermedius Pursh". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- C. ovatus was published in Histoire des Arbres et Arbrisseaux qui peuvent etre cultives en pleine terre sur le sol de la France, 2: 381. 1809. Paris. Harvard University Herbaria/Arnold Arboretum (April 7, 2008). "Botanical Specimen Search Results for Ceanothus ovatus". Index of Botanical Specimens. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- Wildflower Center Staff (February 27, 2009). "Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)". Native Plant Information Network. Austin, Texas: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- PFAF Plant database. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- J.E. Saxton ed. "The Alkaloids". A special report. Vol I The Chemical Society Burlington House, London (1971) SBN 85186 257 8
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