Another name for this plant is Indian Tea and Wild Snowball. American colonists used the leaves to make a tea substitute during the Revolutionary War. The Cherokee made a tea from the leaves to treat coughs and colds. A root tea was made for bowel problems. The Cherokee believed that snakes were more apt to bite when this plant was in bloom.
The plant can grow to three feet tall and it blooms during the May to July time frame. This is a plant you will want if you are interested in attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. It is also deer resistant. Its red roots go deep and it helps it to survive drought conditions. On the other hand it makes it difficult to transplant if you don’t get all the root system. These roots also were used to make a red dye.
The above picture is the New Jersey Tea that we rescued here in Georgia and then donated it to the Cherokee Heritage Garden in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (please excuse my index finger). We rescued in from under some high voltage power lines where it was frequently mowed. It was growing in compacted soil (Georgia red clay) and it was definitely a stubborn little plant-it was determined to live. I do not understand why it has been overlooked by the commercial plant industry. It has so many great qualities and I personally think it is a lovely slow growing shrub.