Herb: Hop Tree

Latin name: Ptelea trifoliata mollis

Synonyms: Ptelea tomentosa

Family: Rutaceae (Rue Family, Citrus Family)

Medicinal use of Hop Tree:

The root-bark is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiperiodic, stomachic and tonic. It has been mixed with other medicines in order to give added potency. It has a soothing influence on the mucous membranes and promotes the appetite, being tolerated when other tonics cannot be retained. It is also taken in the treatment of intermittent fevers such as malaria, heartburn, roundworms, pinworms and poor digestion. Externally it is applied to wounds. The roots are harvested in the autumn, the bark peeled off and dried for later use. The roots are a tonic, used in the treatment of asthmatic breathing, fevers, poor appetite etc. The leaves are said to be useful in the treatment of wounds and also in the destruction of intestinal worms.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Moist places, rocky slopes, edges of woods, alluvial thickets and gravels.

Edible parts of Hop Tree:

Fruit - raw. Eaten by young children. The fruit is also used as a hop substitute when making beer and it is added to yeast to make it rise more quickly when making bread. The fruit is produced abundantly in Britain, though very little of it is fertile. The fruit is about 25mm long.

Other uses of the herb:

Wood - hard, heavy, close grained. It weighs 43lb per cubic foot.

Propagation of Hop Tree:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification at 5C and should be sown as early as possible in the year. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Very little of the seed produced in Britain is viable. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist places, rocky slopes, edges of woods, alluvial thickets and gravels.

Known hazards of Ptelea trifoliata mollis:

This species can cause photosensitization of the skin.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.