This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs, with alternate petioled leaves, and terminal or axillary corymbs or panicles of white blue or yellowish perfect flowers. Calyx-tube hemispheric, or top-shaped, the limb 5-lobed. Petals 5, hooded, clawed, longer than the calyx-lobes, inserted under the disk. Stamens 5; filaments filiform, elongated. Ovary immersed in the disk and adnate to it at the base, 3-lobed. Disk adnate to the calyx. Style short, 3-cleft. Fruit dry, 3-lobed, separating longitudinally at maturity into 3 nutlets. Seed-coat smooth; endosperm fleshy; cotyledons oval or obovate. [Name used by Theophrastus for some different plant.]
About 55 species, natives of North America and northern Mexico. Type species: Ceanothus americanus L.
Leaves ovate or ovate-oblong; peduncles long.
Leaves oblong or oval-lanceolate; peduncles short.
Ceanothus americanus L. Sp. PL 195. 1753.
Stems erect or ascending, branching, several commonly together from a deep reddish root, puberulent, especially above. Leaves ovate or ovate-oblong, 1'-3' long, 1/2'-1' wide, acute or acuminate at the apex, obtuse or subcordate at the base, finely pubescent, especially beneath, serrate all around, strongly 3-nerved; petioles 2"-5" long; peduncles terminal and axillary, elongated, often leafy, bearing dense oblong clusters of small white flowers; pedicels 3"-6" long, white; claws of the petals very narrow; fruit depressed, about 2" high, nearly black.
In dry open woods, Maine to Ontario, Manitoba, south to Florida and Texas. May-July. Ascends to 4200 ft. in North Carolina. An infusion of the leaves was used as tea by the American troops during the Revolution. Also called Wild snowball. Spangles. Walpole-tea. Wild pepper. Mountain-sweet.
Ceanothus ovatus Desf. Hist. Arb. 2: 381. 1809.
C. ovatus pubescens T. & G.; S. Wats. Bibl. Index 1: 166. 1878.
Similar to the preceding species, but generally a smaller shrub and nearly glabrous throughout, or western races densely pubescent. Leaves oblong, or oval-lanceolate, 1'-2' long, 3"-9" wide, mainly obtuse at each end, but sometimes acute at the apex, glabrous, or with a few hairs on the principal veins, serrate with prominently gland-tipped teeth; peduncles short, nearly always terminal, bearing dense short clusters of white flowers; pedicels slender, 4"-7" long; fruit nearly as in C. amcricanus.
In rocky places and on prairies, Vermont and Ontario to Minnesota, Manitoba, the District of Columbia, Illinois and Texas. Rare or absent along the Atlantic coast. May-June.