New Jersey tea

New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus)

New Jersey tea is a compact, drought-resistant, deciduous shrub of barrens and prairie habitats. Reaching a height of three feet, NJ tea grows among the prairie grass and other shrubs in the understory of the inland pine barrens. Its clusters of delicate tiny white blossoms appear in late spring through early summer and are visited by a diversity of pollinators including banded hairstreak butterflies. The dark green leaves of NJ tea are downy underneath and drop in the fall revealing stems that may appear red or yellow in color. Seeds mature in late summer and are held in tiny capsules. The thick taproot of NJ tea helps it to survive both drought and fire.


Habitat: The massive roots of NJ tea enable this shrub to grow in challenging conditions. The dry sandy soil of the Pine Bush is as good as any for this hearty drought-tolerant plant.


Cool facts:

  • NJ Tea is a host plant for many butterflies and moths including the rare mottled duskywing.
  • As its name suggests, the leaves of NJ Tea can be dried and used to brew tea. 
  • The ability of NJ Tea to fix nitrogen gives it a competitive edge over other plants in the nutrient-poor soil of the barrens.

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