General: Buckthorn Family (Rhamnaceae). Jersey tea is a bushy shrub reaching up to one meter in height. The leaves are elliptical-oblong shaped to inversely lanceolate and are attached at the narrower end. The leaves are serrated with rounded teeth along the margins. Veins arise unevenly just above the leaf base. The upper leaf surface is almost smooth. The lower leaf surface has long, soft, unmated hairs. The stalk of the inflorescence is 1-2 cm long and is racemose with flowers maturing from the bottom upwards. The flowers are white and have 5 petals (1.5 mm long), 5 stamens, and 3 lobed ovaries. The fruits or capsules are 3-4.5 mm wide and open at maturity to release the seeds. The seeds are 2 mm long, brownish in color, and have a glossy surface.
Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: Jersey tea is found on rocky and open wooded hillsides and in prairies.
red root, grub root
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
The combination of simple alternate leaves, hood-shaped petals, and 3-lobed fruit help identify this as CEANOTHUS. C. HERBACEUS can be distinguished from other members of the genus by its narrower leaves, which are less than 2 cm wide and not shiny on the upper surface. A hand lens may be necessary for positive determination.
Jersey tea is a drought tolerant species that grows best in well-drained soils and in full sun. Jersey tea is difficult to transplant, therefore propagation by seed is recommended. Seeds can be planted in the late fall or early winter. To plant seeds in the spring, soak the seeds overnight in warm water and stratify.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Inland New Jersey Tea in Illinois
(bees suck nectar or collect pollen, the butterfly sucks nectar; observations are from Krombein et al. and Swengel & Swengel)
Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena forbesii (Kr), Andrena hippotes (Kr), Andrena illinoiensis (Kr), Andrena imitatrix imitatrix (Kr), Andrena ziziae (Kr)
Lycaenidae: Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Sw)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ceanothus herbaceus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ceanothus ovatus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Comments: Land-use conversion and habitat fragmentation are moderate threats to this species (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).
Pests and potential problems
Jersey tea is susceptible to leaf spot and powdery mildew, however no serious insect or disease problems exist.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
These materials are readily available from commercial plant sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Please consult your local land management agency, as this plant is listed as threatened in many states.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Ethnobotanic: The root of Jersey tea was used by the Chippewa for a cough remedy. They would grate approximately 5 inches of the root and mix it with water. The Lakota used the leaves of the plant to brew tea.
Ceanothus herbaceus, also known as Jersey tea, is a species of shrub in the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae and is similar to C. americanus and C. sanguineus. It is a perennial shrub which is native to North America. 
Ceanothus herbaceus naturally occurs throughout North America. They can be found in Canada from southeastern Manitoba to Quebec. Within the United States, the plant can be found from Montana east to Massachusetts and Virginia. They range south from Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, east to Arkansas and Louisiana. 
Habitat and ecology
Ceanothus herbaceus is an erect shrub, ranging between 0.5 and 1 meter in height. The shrub is mainly hemispheric in shape with its branches varying from ascending to spreading. The distal branchlets, which grows from the main stem are flexible and have internodes between 12-31 mm long. They are usually smooth in texture and green in color. The bark of the stem is grayish brown, and the stipules, which are outgrowths on either side of the base of a leaf stalk, are thin and deciduous. The leaves of the shrub are alternate and deciduous. The petiole, which attaches the leaf blade to the stem, is approximately 3-5 mm long. The leaf blades vary between 35-74 mm longitudinally and 10-32mm laterally and come in a diverse shapes, including wide, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, eventually narrowing to acute to obtuse point at the apex. Three veins arise unevenly just above the leaf base. The leaves are serrated with rounded teeth around the margin; about 37-71 per leaf. The upper surface of the leaf is dull green and nearly glabrous. The lower surface is dull green with long, soft unmatted hair, often drying rusty brown. The shrub has a terminal inflorescence which is approximately 15-30 mm long. It is panicle-like and maintains a hemispheric shape. Holding the inflorescence and providing it support is a long stem, known as peduncle. It is typically 26-48 mm in length, usually with a few reduced leaves near the base. Rachis, which is the main axis of the inflorescence, and peduncles are puberulent to somewhat tomentulose. Pedicel, a stem that attaches single flower the main stem of the inflorescence, is about 5-11 mm long and often glabrous. 
Flowers and fruit
The small, white flowers of C. Herbaceus in a dense, rounded cluster are about 0.5 to 0.75 inch wide. It has its disk either dull white or greenish. It has calyces with 5 incurved lobes and 5 petals and sepals. The flower is spoon-shaped and clawed, that consists of 5 stamens. The plant bears a fruit that is 3-4.5 mm wide. The fruit is a three-lobed capsule about 0.19 inches in diameter that opens at maturity to release seeds.  The seeds are usually brown and 2-2.5 mm long, and come in variety of shapes ranging from subglobose to ovoid. The flowering occurs between March and August and fruiting between July and September.  The flower attracts insects, which aid in pollination. The fruit attracts birds, including bobwhite quail, that feed on the seeds. It also serves as a host plant to the azure blue butterfly.
The root and the root bark of jersey tea have been used by the Chippewa Indians as a cough remedy. They would grate relatively 5 inches the root and mix it with water. The Lokata tribe used the leaves of the jersey tea to brew tea.  The plant is grown as an ornament, and has a symbiotic relationship with a nitrogen-fixing bacteria. In current day, the properties of the roots, help treat asthma, bronchitis and coughs. The flowers are rich in saponins and can be used to produce soap. 
C. herbaceus is an endangered species in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, and Vermont. 
- Fross, David; Dieter Wilken (2006). Ceanothus. Oregon: Timber Press Inc. pp. 195–196.
- USDA, NRCS. "The PLANTS Database". National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- "Native Plant Database". Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- Wrede, Jan (2012). Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Texas Hill Country: A Field Guide Ed 2. Everbest Printing Co. p. 153.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Called Ceanothus ovatus in most older floras; see Voss for discussion of correct name.
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