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Growing Native New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Plant the adaptable native New Jersey tea for its landscape and pollinator appeal.

This small-scale shrub grows 3 to 4 feet tall and a bit wider. It is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and prefers light well-drained soils. You will find New Jersey tea thriving in full sun to shade in sandy woods, dry prairies, rocky hillsides, mixed deciduous forests and of course landscapes.

Clusters of white flowers appear at the end of stems in summer. These are a valuable source of nectar for native bees and butterflies. Caterpillars of the spring and summer azure as well as mottled dustywing butterflies feed on the leaves.  Watch for the birds that stop by to nibble on the seeds.

The dark green leaves turn yellow or brown in fall. These have been used to make a tea that was very popular during the revolutionary war period.

A bit more information: Nodes on the roots of New Jersey Tea serve as a host for Frankia bacterium. This bacteria converts gaseous nitrogen into ammonia, a source of nitrogen for plants.

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