Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 120 days
Germination: sow seed 3/4" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed
Introducing Ptelea Trifoliata: Common Hoptree, Hop Tree, Stinking Ash, Wafer Ash
Ptelea trifoliata, commonly known as the common hoptree or wafer ash, is a small tree that can also be found as a shrub with spreading stems. It thrives in the undergrowth of the Mississippi river valley and is most frequently found on rocky slopes.
This versatile plant has many uses and benefits. The fruit of Ptelea trifoliata serves as a hop substitute in beer-making and can also be added to yeast for faster bread rising. The root-bark possesses anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiperiodic, stomachic, and tonic properties. It is often mixed with other medicinal herbs for an added potency.
Belonging to the citrus family (Rutaceae), Ptelea trifoliata is native to North America, specifically Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It is a deciduous shrub or tree with alternate, trifoliolate leaves. These leaves are compound and dotted with oil glands. They are dark green and shiny above, and paler green beneath, turning a rusty yellow in autumn.
In May and June, Ptelea trifoliata produces small, greenish white flowers with narrow petals. These flowers are followed by round, wafer-like papery samara fruit. Each fruit is approximately 2-2.5 cm across, light brown, and contains two seeds. These fruits ripen in October and remain on the tree until early winter winds disperse them.
The wood of Ptelea trifoliata is yellow-brown, heavy, hard, and has a close-grained, satiny texture. Some forms of this plant have smaller leaves, which is an adaptation to drier climates.
Ptelea trifoliata is an important plant with various subspecies and varieties, such as the Common or Eastern Hoptree and the Narrowleaf Hoptree. It has a wide-ranging natural habitat, from rocky forests to sand dunes, and can be found in regions from Ontario and Quebec in Canada to different parts of the United States and even Mexico.
This plant has also gained popularity in cultivation, with numerous ornamental cultivars developed for use in parks and gardens. One such cultivar is 'Aurea,' which features golden leaves and has been recognized with the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
In addition to its ornamental value, Ptelea trifoliata has historical uses. German immigrants to Texas in the 19th century used its seeds as a substitute for hops in the beer-making process, leading to its common name. Native Americans have also utilized this plant for seasoning and as an herbal medicine for various ailments.
Discover the beauty and versatility of Ptelea trifoliata, a remarkable plant with many attributes. Whether you are a beer-maker, a baker, or simply a lover of nature, this common hoptree is sure to captivate your interest.