New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a part of the prairie terrain in Chicago’s Lincoln Park outside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The blooms with prolific, pollen-laden anthers caught my attention. If a plant could scream, “Here I am, come visit me” this is what it was silently yelling to passing insects.
Popular with more than insects, during the American Revolution, the leaves became the alternative tea source replacing British varieties. New Jersey Tea has been a long time medicinal choice of Native Indians and a current favorite of herbalists. What will remain unmentioned is that is part of the Buckthorn family whose members include the Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), an aggressive European invader.