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This little shrub has a lot going for it from both horticultural and ecological perspectives. It was used by colonists during the Revolutionary War as a substitute for tea (hence the common name), even though the leaves contain no caffeine. Early pioneers discovered that the stout roots of New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) were a formidable barrier to the plow. Chemical compounds from this plant have been found to affect the speed of blood coagulation (Lynch et al., 1958), and they have been found to have antimicrobial properties on oral pathogens (Li et al., 1997). The only other species in this genus that occurs in Illinois, Redroot (Ceanothus ovatus), differs from New Jersey Tea by having more narrowly shaped leaves and shorter panicles of flowers. Return


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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