Ceanothus herbaceus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: inland New Jersey tea 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rhamnaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Best grown in medium to dry, alkaline, well-draining soils in full sun. Drought tolerant once established. This plant has a deep and extensive root system, and should not be disturbed once established. Can be grown in an area with some light shade, but prefers full sun. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ceanothus herbaceus, commonly known as inland New Jersey tea or prairie redroot, is a small, upright, deciduous shrub native to glades, rocky prairie slopes, and sandy, loess hills in the central United States. In Missouri this species is mostly restricted to the western part of the state where it is relatively uncommon. This plant can reach up to 3' tall with a 2' spread. The new growth emerges in spring on slender stems with green to redish bark. The glossy leaves (between 1-2" long and 0.5-1" wide) are elliptic to lanceolate in shape, have prominent venation, and serrated margins. Small, white flowers borne in rounded, dense, terminal clusters (up to 3" in diameter) appear April to June. The fruits are small, dark brown to black capsules with three segments. This plant is attractive to butterflies and other insect pollinators, and is a known host plant for the mottled duskywing and spring azure butterflies. Birds eat the seeds and use this shrub for cover and nesting habitat.

Genus name comes from keanothos which is an ancient Greek name relating to some plants in the buckthorn family.

The specific epithet herbaceus means herbaceous or not woody, in reference to the tendency of this species to send up herbaceous to semi-woody new growth that dies back in the winter.

The common name of inland New Jersey tea comes from this plant's native range as compared to the related plant Ceanothus americanus, commonly called New Jersey tea. The range of C. americanus extends from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River. The dried leaves were used by various Native American tribes to make a medicinal tea. A red dye can be obtained from the roots, hence the common name prairie redroot.

Problems

No known pest or disease problems. Deer and rabbits will readily browse this plant.

Garden Uses

This plant will do well in moderately dry and sunny locations in the garden provided there is good drainage. Suitable for rock gardens, gravel gardens, native gardens or naturalized areas. Also useful for hard-to-grow areas such as dry rocky slopes and banks.