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a genus of plants of the family Rhamnaceae. The plants are deciduous or evergreen shrubs or, less commonly, small trees. Some species have thorny branches. The alternate or opposite leaves are simple, usually petioled, and toothed; they bear deciduous stipules. The light-blue, white, pink, or red flowers are bisexual and small; they have a five-parted corolla and are gathered into umbellate clusters that form vivid panicles. The dry, rounded fruit dehisces into three nutlets.
There are about 80 species, distributed mainly in North America. Many species, especially those with light-blue and dark-blue flowers (numerous garden varieties and hybrids), are cultivated as ornamentals. The New Jersey tea (C. americanus), a deciduous shrub that reaches 1 m in height and has ovate or elliptical alternate leaves, is grown in the USSR in gardens and parks. Its white flowers are in axillary or terminal inflorescences. Its leaves were once used in North America as a substitute for tea.