Red Roototanical: Ceanothus Americanus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rhamnaceae
Synonyms: New Jersey Tea. Wild Snowball.
Parts Used: Root or bark of the root.
Habitat: North America.
History: This is a half-hardy shrub growing to 4 or 5 feet high. It has downy leaves and stems and small ornamental white flowers in great numbers, coming into bloom June or July, followed by bluntly triangular seedvessels. It is usually called 'New Jersey Tea' in America because its leaves were used as a substitute for tea during the War of Independence. In Canada it is used to dye wool a cinnamon colour. It takes its name from its large red roots. Its wood is tough, pale brown red, with fine rays - taste bitter and astringent with no odour. Fracture hard, tough, splintering. Its bark is brittle, dark-coloured and thin.
Constituents: The leaves are said to contain tannin, a soft resin and bitter extract, a green colouring matter similar to green tea in colour and taste, gum a volatile substance, lignin, and a principle called Ceanothine.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Astringent, antispasmodic, anti-syphilitic expectorant and sedative, used in asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping-cough, consumption, and dysentery; also as a mouth-wash and gargle, and as an injection in gonorrhoea, gleet and leucorrhoea.
Dosages: Of the decoction, 1/2 OZ. Fluid extract, 1 to 30 drops.
Other Species: Mexican Ceanothus azurea (Desf.), a powerful febrifuge.