The Hop Tree is a small native tree in the citrus family that has trifoliate, compound leaves and curious, circular, winged fruits. It is a single or multi-stemmed deciduous tree with smooth, grayish-brown bark and a dense, rounded canopy. It grows in woods, glades, ravines, thickets and prairies. Typically grows to 10-20' tall. Features compound, trifoliate, shiny, dark green leaves (each leaflet is 2-5" long) which turn greenish yellow in autumn. Small, light green flowers are in rounded clusters at the branch tips. The flowers have four petals and are lightly fragrant. Clusters of light green, pendant fruits develop from the flowers in the spring. They mature to brown in the late summer and persist on the twigs in the winter. The fruits are thin, circular, winged discs (samaras) and are about 1 inch wide. The fruits have been used as a substitute for hops, hence the common name hop tree. It is also called wafer ash for the wafer-like, winged fruits. It is a host plant for the giant swallowtail butterfly. The hop tree is grown as a tree or shrub, s a specimen plant and in groups and in native plant gardens. Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Tolerates full sun. Adaptable to wide range of growing conditions. Hardy in zones 6-9.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 3 months.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Fill a pot with a mixture of half potting soil and half sand or vermiculite.
- Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the container.
- Put the pot in a warm, sunny area.
- Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet.
- The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.