Botanical Name : Ceanothus americanus
Family : Rhamnacea
Common Names :Red Root , New Jersey tea, Wild Snowball,Sticky Laurel, Snowbrush ceanothus, Hooker’s ceanothus
Habitat: Ceanothus americanus is native to Western N. America – British Columbia to Colorado and California. It grows on moist soils of hills and mountains to 2,600 metres. It often occurs in draws and on the open face of hills, becoming rapidly established on burnt-over mountain slopes.
Ceanothus velutinus is the most common member of this genus and is widespread throughout North America
Ceanothus americanus is a decidous shrub growing between 18–42 inches high, having many thin branches. Its root system is thick with fibrous root hairs close to the surface, but with stout, burlish, woody roots that reach deep into the earth—root systems may grow very large in the wild, to compensate after repeated exposures to wildfires. White flowers grow in clumpy inflorescences on lengthy, axillary peduncles. Fruits are dry, dehiscent, seed capsule
Bloom Time: May – July Bloom Data. Bloom Color: White
Flower/Fruit: Long lasting creamy white to light pink flowers in summer; not fragrant.
Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds; adaptable easy to grow plant
Exposure: Sun to partial shade; tolerates hot dry sites…….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Prefers a warm sunny position but tolerates light shade[11, 200]. Tolerates some lime, but will not succeed on shallow chalk. One report says that this species is hardy to zone 5 (tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c) whilst another says that it needs the protection of a wall when grown outdoors in Britain. Plants dislike root disturbance, they should be planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small. Dislikes heavy pruning, it is best not to cut out any wood thicker than a pencil. Plants flower on the previous year’s growth, if any pruning is necessary it is best carried out immediately after flowering has finished. Constant pruning to keep a plant small can shorten its life. Fast growing, it flowers well when young, often in its second year from seed. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The leaves have a strong scent of balsam. Some members of this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then given 1 – 3 months stratification at 1°c. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 2 months at 20°c. One report says that the seed is best given boiling water treatment, or heated in 4 times its volume of sand at 90 – 120°c for 4 – 5 minutes and then soaked in warm water for 12 hours before sowing it. It then requires a period of chilling below 5°c for up to 84 days before it will germinate. Seeds have considerable longevity, some that have been in the soil for 200 years or more have germinated. The seed is ejected from its capsule with some force when fully ripe, timing the collection of seed can be difficult because unless collected just prior to dehiscence the seed is difficult to extract and rarely germinates satisfactorily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken at a node, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 7 – 12 cm with a heel, October in a cold frame. The roots are quite brittle and it is best to pot up the callused cuttings in spring, just before the roots break. Good percentage.
Many species are popular garden ornamental plants, and dozens of hybrids and cultivars have been selected, such as Flexible Ceanothus, Ceanothus × flexilis Greene ex McMinn (C. cuneatus × C. prostratus).
Ceanothus velutinus was known as “red root” by many Native American tribes due to the color of the inner root bark, and was used as a medicine for treating lymphatic disorders, ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors, and tonsillitis. Clinical studies of the alkaloid compounds in Ceanothus velutinus has verified its effectiveness in treating high blood pressure and lymphatic blockages.
Native Americans used the dried leaves of this plant as a herbal tea, and early pioneers used the plant as a substitute for black tea. Miwok Indians of California made baskets from Ceanothus branches. C. integerrimus has been used by North American tribes to ease childbirth. Ceanothus velutinus has been demonstrated to be very effective in relieving inflammation and irritation from infections of the mouth and throat.
Dried leaves were used as a tea substitute, in the American Revolutionary War times, hence the common name “New Jersey Tea”, but it is the root that has been used for medicine by herbalists in China, Russia and North Americas. The healing uses of the plant were known to the native tribes of North America who used it to treat skin cancers, skin lesions, and venereal sores. The root is an astringent, expectorant and antispasmodic and is used by modern herbalists in the treatment of complaints such as asthma, bronchitis and coughs. It has proven useful in mouthwashes to relieve sore throat and to help reduce dental plaque.
The bark of the red roots was used as a sedative, stimulant, and antispasmodic and for treating respiratory diseases, high blood pressure, and enlarged spleens. The plant has been used to treat gonorrhea, dysentery, and eye disease in children. The root is reported to be a stimulant, a sedative, and a means of loosening phlegm. Much later, a commercial preparation of the bark was used to prevent hemorrhaging after surgery. New Jersey tea root-bark has been recommended for various chest problems, including chronic bronchitis, nervous asthma, whooping cough, and consumption. It has also been used as a gargle for inflammations and irritations in the mouth and throat, particularly for swollen tonsils. American Indians used a tea made from the whole plant for skin problems (including skin cancer and venereal sores). Ceanothus is one of the few remedies which has a direct affinity for the malfunction of the spleen, and is of special help in all ailments where there is despondency and melancholy. It is an indirect herbal agent for diabetes. Especially useful in nervousness when mentally disturbed, bilious sick headache, acute indigestion and nausea due to inactivity of the liver. The astringent action of a strong tea for hemorrhoids will decrease the tissue if used often. Red Root is a lymphatic remedy,
stimulating lymph and interstitial-fluid circulation. It prevents the buildup of congested fluids in lymphatic tissue as well as clearning out isolated fluid cysts that may form in some soft tissues. It will help reabsorption of some ovarian cysts and testicular hydroceles when combined with Dong Quai or Blue Cohosh and Helonias Roots. For breast cysts that enlarge and shrink with the estrous cycle and have been diagnosed medically as such, combine the Red Root with Cotton Root, Inmortal, or 3-5 drop doses of Phytolacca tincture.
It is an excellent treatment for tonsil inflammations, sore throats, enlarged lymph nodes, and chronic adenoid enlargements.
Side Effects: Not for use while pregnant or nursing.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.