Red Root (Ceanothus
americanus) 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 color. 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 odor. Fracture
hard, tough, splintering. Its bark is brittle, dark-colored and thin.
The leaves of Red Root are
said to contain tannin, a soft resin and bitter extract, a green
coloring matter similar to green tea in color and taste, gum a volatile
substance, lignin, and a principle called Ceanothine.
Red Root exhibits astringent,
antispasmodic, anti-syphilitic expectorant and sedative properties, used
in asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping-cough, consumption, and
dysentery; also as a mouth-wash and gargle, and as an injection in
gonorrhea, gleet and leucorrhoea.