New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus
Rhamnaceae or Buckthorn Family

Low shrub, usually under 4 ft tall. Leaves egg-shaped, pointed and finely toothed, not opposite each other, with strongly marked veins. Characteristically the leaves have three main veins that come together at the leaf stalk. Flowers in dense clusters in the axils of the leaves, fragrant, white, with 5 sepals fused into a star shaped funnel and 5 hatchet-shaped petals sticking out. Buds are star-shaped at the ends of the white tubes. Blooms in late spring. Fruits are dry capsules in clusters, each three-lobed, in the fall. Bases of the capsules persist into winter.

Plant in habitat

A lovely native, producing abundant nectar for butterflies, moths, and other insects. Unfortunately rare in the Park. Known from the bluffs over Wildwood Drive, where it suffers from the herbicides that the power company sprays, and suffers from shading by taller shrubs when they don't spray. Also occurs just outside the Park, on the Bissett side of the tunnel.

The flowers when present, are distinctive. When flowers are missing, the 3 main leaf veins coming together at the base, and the clusters of capsules, or their bases, in the leaf axils are good identifying characters.

Leaves Inflorescence closeup Flowers closeup

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