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Ptelea trifoliata - L.

Common Name Hop Tree, Common hoptree, Pallid hoptree
Family Rutaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards This species can cause photosensitization of the skin[274].
Habitats Moist places, rocky slopes, edges of woods[21], alluvial thickets and gravels[43]. It is found in many different soil types[227].
Range Eastern N. America - Quebec and New York to Florida, west to Texas and Kansas.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Ptelea trifoliata Hop Tree, Common hoptree, Pallid hoptree
Ptelea trifoliata Hop Tree, Common hoptree, Pallid hoptree


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Ptelea trifoliata is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from October to November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Carrion flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses: Condiment

Fruit. A very bitter flavour, though it is eaten by young children[161]. 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[2, 159, 183]. The fruit is produced abundantly in Britain[61], though very little of it is fertile[11]. The fruit is very thin and about 25mm long[200].


Medicinal Uses

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Anthelmintic  Antibacterial  Antiperiodic  Antirheumatic  Miscellany  Stomachic  Tonic

The root-bark is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiperiodic, stomachic and tonic[4, 21, 46, 82, 238]. It has been mixed with other medicines in order to give added potency[213, 222, 257]. It has a soothing influence on the mucous membranes and promotes the appetite, being tolerated when other tonics cannot be retained[4]. It is also taken in the treatment of intermittent fevers such as malaria, heartburn, roundworms, pinworms and poor digestion[238]. Externally it is applied to wounds[238]. The roots are harvested in the autumn, the bark peeled off and dried for later use[238]. The roots are a tonic, used in the treatment of asthmatic breathing, fevers, poor appetite etc[222]. The leaves are said to be useful in the treatment of wounds and also in the destruction of intestinal worms[213, 222].


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Other Uses

Hedge  Hedge  Miscellany  Wood

Sometimes used as a hedge plant in N. America[226]. Wood - hard, heavy, close grained[82, 149]. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot[227] but the tree does not grow large enough for commercial exploitation[229].

Special Uses

Hedge  Hedge  Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Succeeds in any fertile well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or light part day shade[11, 200]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A very ornamental plant[50], it is slow-growing and short-lived in the wild[229]. The sub-species P. trifoliata mollis. Torr.&Gray. is the form that is eaten by children[161]. The leaves are aromatic[188]. All parts of the plant emit a disagreeable odour[227]. The flowers are especially pungent and are pollinated by carrion flies[229]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].


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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification at 5°c and should be sown as early as possible in the year[113]. 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[11]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[113]. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Euptelea pleiosperma Tree9.0 5-9  LMHSNM10 
Euptelea polyandraEupteleaTree8.0 6-7 MLMHSNM10 
Hemiptelea davidii Tree15.0 3-7  LMHSNM21 
Ptelea baldwiniiCommon hoptreeShrub6.0 5-9  LMHSNM10 
Ptelea trifoliata mollisHop TreeTree6.0 4-8  LMHSNM23 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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