Red root (Ceanothus americana) is a member of the buckthorn family also known by a variety of common names, such as Mountain Lilac, Redshank, Desert Buckthorn and New Jersey Tea.
The pinkish-red roots, which possess a spicy almost mint-like aroma, are harvested in spring and usually cut before completely dried. Red root is rarely prepared in any form other than a decoction or tincture.
Native Americans frequently used red root topically to address skin lesions and internally for cough and other respiratory complaints. The astringency of the root and bark of this herb is attributed to a significant amount of tannins. Red root also contains several peptide alkaloids.