Content Detail

During June and July this low-growing, rounded shrub is a cloud of white flowers. New Jersey tea is used in masses for best effect, as a tall ground cover, or on steep slopes. While the flowers are remarkable on their own, it is also nectar source and a caterpillar and larva host, attracting an array of beautiful butterflies.

 This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.  

  • Family (English) Buckthorn
  • Family (botanic) Rhamnaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size and form:

A low-growing sub-shrub reaching 3 to 5 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is common in prairies, open woods, and savannahs. C-Value: 6

Attracts birds & butterflies:

This shrub is an excellent nectar source for numerous butterflies and hummingbirds.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

New Jersey tea has simple, alternate, dark green, ovate leaves with a toothed margin, that are 2 to 3 inches long. Fall color is yellowish. When crushed, the foliage is fragrant.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Terminal clusters of cloud-like white flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

A dry, triangular seed capsule is the fruit.

Plant care:

New Jersey tea grows best in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant once established. Its thick, deep roots make it an excellent choice for rocky hillsides and slopes. Plants can die back to the ground in winter months, but return the next spring. It should be pruned only in the summer months.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:  

New Jersey tea is prone to root rot in wet soils and canker disease. It can tolerate wind and black walnut toxicity.


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