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Humulus lupulus - L.                
Common Name Hop, Common hop, European Hop,
Family Cannabidaceae
USDA hardiness 5-7
Known Hazards Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people[222]. Hops dermatitis has long been recognized. Not only hands and face, but legs have suffered purpuric eruptions due to hop picking. Although only 1 in 3,000 workers is estimated to be treated, one in 30 are believed to suffer dermatitis[269]. Dislodged hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes[222]. Sedative effect may worsen depression. Avoid during pregnancy (due to antispasmodic action on uterus). Avoid with breast, uterine and cervical cancers [301].
Habitats Hedgerows, woodlands and sunny waste ground[7].
Range Much of Europe, including Britain, to W. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Variable spread.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Humulus lupulus is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 6 m (19ft 8in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Synonyms Humulus americanus. Humulus volubilis. Humulus vulgaris. Lupulus amarus.
Humulus lupulus Hop, Common hop, European Hop,

Humulus lupulus Hop, Common hop, European Hop,
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedgerow; North Wall. By. East Wall. By.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Drink;  Rutin;  Tea.

Young leaves and young shoots - cooked[2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 33, 37]. The flavour is unique and, to many tastes, delicious[183]. Young leaves can be eaten in salads[1, 183]. Use before the end of May[12]. The leaves contain rutin[218]. The fleshy rhizomes are sometimes eaten[183]. A tea is made from the leaves and cones[183]. It has a gentle calming effect[4]. The dried flowering heads of female plants are used as a flavouring and preservative in beer[2, 183]. They are also medicinal[2]. The flowering heads are sprinkled with bitter-tasting yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance[4]. This substance prevents gram-negative bacteria from growing in the beer or wort[269]. Much of the hop's use as a flavouring and medicinal plant depends on the abundance of this powdery substance[4]. The seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is said to have many important functions in the human body and is rarely found in plant sources[218]. The essential oil in the flowering heads is used as a flavouring in cereal beverages and mineral waters[269]. Extracts from the plant, and the oil, are used as flavouring in non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and puddings, with the highest average maximum use level of 0.072% reported for an extract used in baked goods[269].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne;  Antianxiety;  Antibacterial;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Appetizer;  Diuretic;  Febrifuge;  Galactogogue;  Hypnotic;  Nervine;  
Sedative;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Hops have a long and proven history of herbal use, where they are employed mainly for their soothing, sedative, tonic and calming effect on the body and the mind. Their strongly bitter flavour largely accounts for their ability to strengthen and stimulate the digestion, increasing gastric and other secretions[254]. The female fruiting body is anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, stomachic and tonic[4, 9, 21, 46, 165, 192, 218]. Hops are widely used as a folk remedy to treat a wide range of complaints, including boils, bruises, calculus, cancer, cramps, cough, cystitis, debility, delirium, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, fever, fits, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, jaundice, nerves, neuralgia, rheumatism, and worms[269]. The hairs on the fruits contain lupulin, a sedative and hypnotic drug[213, 218]. When given to nursing mothers, lupulin increases the flow of milk - recent research has shown that it contains a related hormone that could account for this effect[7]. The decoction from the flower is said to remedy swellings and hardness of the uterus[269]. Hop flowers are much used as an infusion or can also be used to stuff pillows where the weight of the head will release the volatile oils[213]. The fruit is also applied externally as a poultice to ulcers, boils, painful swellings etc[4, 218], it is said to remedy painful tumours[269]. The female flowering heads are harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried[238]. Alcoholic extracts of hops in various dosage forms have been used clinically in treating numerous forms of leprosy, pulmonary tuberculosis, and acute bacterial dysentery, with varying degrees of success in China. The female fruiting body contains humulone and lupulone, these are highly bacteriostatic against gram-positive and acid-fast bacteria[240]. A cataplasm of the leaf is said to remedy cold tumours[269]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Humulus lupulus for nervousness and insomnia (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses
Dye;  Essential;  Fibre;  Paper.

A fine brown dye is obtained from the leaves and flower heads[4, 100, 269]. An essential oil from the female fruiting heads is used in perfumery[213, 238]. Average yields are 0.4 - 0.5%[240]. Extracts of the plant are used in Europe in skin creams and lotions for their alleged skin-softening properties[269]. A fibre is obtained from the stems[46]. Similar to hemp (Cannabis sativa)[100] but not as strong[115], it is used to make a coarse kind of cloth[4]. It is sometimes used for filler material in corrugated paper or board products, but is unsuited for corrugated paper because of low pulp yield and high chemical requirement, or for production of high-grade pulp for speciality paper[269]. The fibre is very durable but it is difficult to separate, the stems need to be soaked beforehand for a whole winter[4]. A paper can also be made from the fibre, the stems are harvested in the autumn, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibre is cooked for 2 hours with lye and then hand pounded with mallets or ball milled for 2½ hours. The paper is brown in colour[189].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Ground cover, Screen. Easily grown in a good garden soil in sun or semi-shade[1, 53]. Prefers a deep rich loam[37] and a warm sheltered position[187]. Plants can succeed in dry shade if plenty of humus is incorporated into the soil, once established they are also somewhat drought tolerant[190]. Hops are reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of between 31 and 137cm, an annual temperature in the range of 5.6 to 21.3°C and a pH of 4.5 to 8.2[269]. Plants are very hardy tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c when dormant[187]. The young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by any more than a mild frost[269]. A climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around the branches of other plants[219]. Hops are frequently cultivated, both commercially and on a domestic scale, in temperate zones for their seed heads which have many medicinal qualities and are also used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. There are many named varieties[183]. They grow best between the latitudes of 35 - 51°N and 34 - 43°S, with mean summer temperatures of 16 - 18°C[269]. Generally, for beer making, the unfertilized seed heads are preferred and so most male plants are weeded out[4]. Hops are fairly deep rooted, but with a network of shallow feeding roots. These horizontal feeding roots spread out at depth of 20 - 30 cm in the soil and give rise to fibrous roots in upper layers of soil[269]. The vertical roots develop downwards to a depth of about 150 cm with a spread of 183 - 244 cm and have no fibrous roots[269]. The bruised leaves are refreshingly aromatic whilst the flowers cast a pleasing scent[245]. A food plant for many caterpillars[30]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Edible, Invasive, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for dried flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame[37]. Germination is fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer or following spring. Division in spring as new growth begins[1]. Very easy, you can plant the divisions straight out into their permanent positions if required[K]. Basal cuttings in March. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[5]Mabey. R. Food for Free.
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[12]Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder.
A handy pocket guide.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[30]Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe.
An excellent book on Lepidoptera, it also lists their favourite food plants.
[33]Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[53]De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden.
Interesting reading.
[100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
[115]Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[189]Bell. L. A. Plant Fibres for Papermaking.
A good practical section on how to make paper on a small scale plus details of about 75 species (quite a few of them tropical) that can be used.
[190]Chatto. B. The Dry Garden.
A good list of drought resistant plants with details on how to grow them.
[192]Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants
A lot of details about the history, chemistry and use of narcotic plants, including hallucinogens, stimulants, inebriants and hypnotics.
[213]Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[219]Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[245]Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World.
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[269]Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of plants.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.
[302]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Commission E

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Fri Mar 30 2007
My hops (that I bought at the beer brewing store) are in their second year. Today I ate some of the young leaves raw as I gardened. I loved the taste. I am experimenting with a hops permculture guild, with hops running up a deer fence on the east side of some 4 year old stone fruits. I also find the Cannabaceae family to be intereting on several accounts. It contains very few species, but highly powerful ones. And along with like their close cousins in the Ulmaceae family, they are great as permaculture plants . Nettle used to be included in their family, but now is recognized mostly as being in the Ulmaceae. Nettle is by far the most nutritious plant in my garden. Hops could be the most delicious.
Elizabeth H.
Celia Kozlowski Thu Apr 10 2008
The link above to "hop.com" is to a web page for Hooked on Phonics. I would like to know of a UK seller of rhizomes of female hops plants -- specifically desirable beer-flavoring varieties.
Elizabeth H.
George Tue Oct 7 2008
I think there is a misunderstanding with people in most cases where I read about hops. People normally say that it is the flowers that are used to flavour beer and as a medicine. I'm pretty sure that I'm right in saying that it is in fact the seed cones that are used, which of course follow the flowers but are not in fact the actual flowers. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the material used mainly by humans looks a hell of a lot like the seed cones rather than the actual flowers.
John K.
Jan 26 2012 12:00AM
George - you are correct. The cones (also called strobiles) are what remais of the flower clusters. They contain small resinous globs which are high in alpha and beta acids... used for their bitterness, aroma, and preservative qualities in beer as well as possible medicinal effects.
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Subject : Humulus lupulus  

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