narrow-leaved New Jersey tea

(Ceanothus herbaceus)

Conservation Status
narrow-leaved New Jersey tea
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Narrow-leaved New Jersey tea is a low, drought resistant shrub. In the United States it occurs in the northeastern tier of states from Vermont and Virginia west to Minnesota and Illinois, and in the Great Plains and Midwest from Iowa and Arkansas west to Montana and New Mexico. In occurs in southern Canada from Quebec to Manitoba. It is found in prairies, savannas, hillsides, and open woodlands, and on roadsides. It grows under full sun in sandy or rocky soil. It is uncommon and local in Minnesota.

Narrow-leaved New Jersey tea is a bushy, compact shrub that rises from a large root system that includes a stout taproot. It can be 24 to 40 (60 to 100 cm) tall but in Minnesota it is usually no more than 24 (60 cm) in height. It sometimes forms clumps but seldom forms colonies.

The stems are erect or curving up from the base (ascending) and much branched. They do not root at the nodes. The bark is grayish-brown. Branches are ascending, flexible, and round in cross section. They are not thorn-tipped. First year branches are green to brownish-green and are densely covered with minute, more or less appressed hairs. Older branches are brown or reddish and minutely hairy, eventually becoming hairless or almost hairless.

The leaves are alternate, 1 to 2¾ (25 to 70 mm) long, and to 1316 (10 to 30 mm) wide. They are on hairy, 116 to ¼ (2 to 6 mm) long stalks (petioles). The leaf blades are herbaceous, not leathery, not resinous, and not aromatic. They are usually narrowly oval (elliptic) to lance-shaped, sometimes egg-shaped or inversely lance-shaped. They are wedge-shaped or rounded at the base and narrowly or broadly pointed at the tip. There are three main veins arising from the base of the blade, a midvein and a pair of secondary veins that are as prominent and sometimes as long as the midvein. The upper surface is dark green, dull, and usually sparsely to moderately covered with short, cobwebby hairs, rarely hairless. The lower surface is pale green and moderately to densely covered with short hairs, rarely hairless. The margins have 22 to 35 rounded, gland-tipped teeth per side. The leaves will shrivel and discolor in dry conditions but fully recover after a rain.

The inflorescence is a single umbrella-like, globe-shaped to half globe-shaped, 1916 to 3 (4 to 8 cm) in diameter cluster of flowers at the end of each main branchlet of the current years growth. The stalk (peduncle) of the inflorescence is usually shorter than the subtending leaf.

Each flower is about ¼ wide. There are 5 outer floral leaves (sepals), 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are white, triangular, curved inward, and 164 to 132 (0.5 to 1.0 mm) long. The petals are white, spoon-shaped, widely spreading, and 116 to (1.5 to 2.5 mm) long. The stamens have white stalks (filaments) and usually dark anthers. The style is white and has 3 lobes.

The fruit is a capsule-like, modified drupe with 3 lobes. Mature fruits are black and to 3 16 (3 to 5 mm) in diameter.

The fruit is a black, capsule-like, 3-lobed, to 3 16 (3 to 5 mm) wide, modified drupe with 3 stones.




24 to 40 (60 to 100 cm)


Flower Color




Similar Species


New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a larger plant, up to 40 (100 cm) in Minnesota. The leaves are larger, longer stalked, and broad, not narrow. The inflorescence is larger, panicle-like clusters on short branchlets in the upper leaf axils. The fruit is unlobed.


Moderately dry to dry. Prairies, savannas, hillsides, open woodlands, roadsides. Full or partial sun. Sandy or rocky soil.




Early June to early July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Uncommon and local

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  


Rhamnaceae (buckthorn)  
  Tribe Rhamneae  


  Subgenus Ceanothus  

Subordinate Taxa






Ceanothus herbaceus var. pubescens

Ceanothus ovatus

Ceanothus ovatus var. pubescens

Ceanothus pubescens


Common Names


inland ceanothus

Jersey tea

narrow-leaved New Jersey tea

prairie redroot











Growing upward at an angle or curving upward from the base.



A fleshy fruit with usually a single hard, stone-like core, like a cherry or peach; a stone fruit.



Narrowly oval, broadest at the middle, narrower at both ends, with the ends being equal.



On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



In angiosperms, the stalk of a single flower or a flower cluster; in club mosses, the stalk of a strobilus or a group of strobili.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



Extending nearly horizontal.

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Nancy Falkum


New Jersey Tea with American Copper Butterfly (Lower Right)

    narrow-leaved New Jersey tea      



This appears to be a new plant I have not seen before. Growing in the ditch near my woods.

    narrow-leaved New Jersey tea   narrow-leaved New Jersey tea  








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  Nancy Falkum

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

New Jersey Tea with American Copper Butterfly (Lower Right)

narrow-leaved New Jersey tea  

Location: Fairview Twp, Cass County

This appears to be a new plant I have not seen before. Growing in the ditch near my woods.

narrow-leaved New Jersey tea  






Created: 7/23/2020

Last Updated:

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