Red root: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on red root

Ceanothus americana is a shrub of the Rhamnaceae family.

The plant reaches heights of 18-42 inches and has many thin branches.

In the wild plant's large root system has presumably developed to compensate for repeated exposures to wildfires. Its deep-reaching roots are stout and woody. Close to the surface the system is thick with fibrous root hairs.

It produces white flowers in clumpy inflorescences atop lengthy, axillary peduncles. The red root plant's fruits are dry, dehiscent, seed capsules.

common names & nomenclature
This plant's leaves was one of the many substitutions American patriots used for imported tea during the American Revolution. Hence the use of one its common names, "New Jersey Tea".

Also known as:
red root, mountain lilac, redshank, desert buckthorn, new jersey tea

Red Root, hand-harvested, shade-dried
Red root: Where in the World
habitat and range for red root

Ceanothus americana is a species of shrub native to North America.

Red root: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting red root

Ceanothus americana is commonly found on dry plains, prairies, or similar areas. It can also often be spotted in forest clearings or verges, on banks or lakeshores, and on gentle slopes in sun to part shade.

Prefers sandy or rocky soils, it will tolerate some lime, but the plant will not succeed on shallow chalk soil.

Sow seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Seeds that have been stored will need to be pre-soaked in warm water for 12 hours and then given 1-3 months stratification. Germination will usually take place in 1-2 months. Transplant 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.

The plant's roots are harvested in the autumn or spring when their red color is at its deepest. Harvest leaves during the growing season and dry for later use.

Store dried red root pieces and leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Red root: The Rest of the Story
red root history, folklore, literature & more

red root for relief
Red root is a plant that’s been around for hundreds of years and has been used by Native Americans to treat a wide variety of issues. It’s also been used as a beverage and actually has the nickname “New Jersey Tea” that comes from its use as a beverage during the Revolutionary War when black tea was hard to come by.

But other than being a tasty beverage, red root does provide actual relief of specific symptoms. This is especially true when it comes to the respiratory system. Red root is an expectorant that helps to relieve the problems associated with infections of the respiratory tract. It helps to thin the phlegm and make coughs more productive. It may also help to actually fight infection in this area of the body.

If you’re dealing with a bout of bronchitis, asthma issues, or you have a sore throat associated with a cold, you may find that red root is the perfect solution for your problems.

Red root has uses beyond the respiratory system as well. In fact, it also has uses for the cardiovascular system. Research has shown that red root can help to treat high blood pressure and help you to return to normal. At the same time, it also works to coagulate or thicken and clot the blood.

If you’re suffering from sleepless nights, red root may also be the answer for you. It works as a mild sedative and can help you to put an end to your nightly practice of counting sheep. When you can sleep better, you’ll also enjoy better overall health and wellness.

Some studies also point to red root’s use as a treatment for diarrhea. It’s thought to help slow down the digestive tract and help you to get back to normal bowel function. This also helps to prevent dehydration and malnutrition that often come from chronic problems with diarrhea.

Red root can be used in the form of a tincture or an infusion and in both cases can be used 3 times each day. It’s the perfect herb to keep in your household to fight the occasional cold. It may also be a good herb for helping you control blood pressure. Make sure that you talk to your healthcare provider before you begin using red root for blood pressure or if you’re taking blood pressure medication. It’s important to make sure it won’t interfere with your current treatment or make matters worse.