Hop Tree
Ptelea trifoliata

Location in Ontario

Hop Tree is a Carolinian Tree that grows in Lambton County, Essex County, Chatham-Kent and Elgin County. It was, at one time, identified on Long Point, Norfolk County but has since been extirpated. A few trees grow along Big Creek, but these may have been planted. Hop Trees prefer sandy soils, especially along the edges of shoreline vegetation.

COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) Status: Hop Tree is identified as threatened in Canada. This is due to loss of habitat mostly from lakeshore developments.


Hop Trees are abundant in Point Pelee National Park

Genus Ptelea
Ptelea is a genus in the citrus family. The name is the classical Greek name for Elm due to the resemblance of its fruit to Elm fruit. Members of the genus are commonly known as hoptrees. Leaves are alternate, and compound, usually with 3 leaflets, and with long stems. Trees are dioecious with female and male flowers on different trees. Flowers are small with 4 or 5 petals. The fruit is a broadly winged samara. The bark brownish-gray to reddish-brown, smooth with horizontal lenticels, developing into  corky ridges on larger trees.

In the Landscape
Hop Tree is small tree growing to only 10 metres. It most often occurs as a tall shrub. It is a short lived tree (no specific age is available). Hop Tree is aromatic with interesting leaves, flowers and fruit.

TREE FACT: This common name, Hop Tree, was named for its fruit which can be used to make beer in place of "hops".

TREE FACT: The fruit has a pleasant, citrus-like odour, which is not surprising since this tree is in the citrus family.

Hop Trees growing along Big Creek, Norfolk County

A leaf is made up of three leaflets. The top leaflet is larger than the other leaflets. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.
The bark is shiny and reddish-brown in colour. It is smooth on young trees, becoming corky with age.
Hop Tree is dioecious, male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers occur on different trees. Both pollen and seed flowers are greenish-white with an unpleasant odour, somewhat like rotten meat. Flies and other insects, however, are attracted to the odour and help to pollinate the tree. Pollen flowers are somewhat larger. Flowers occur after the leaves.
Seeds are contained within a flat, nearly round samara. Dried fruit stays on the tree into winter. Fruit is produced after only a few years of growth, and good seed crops occur every year. The fruit has a citrus odour.

The wood is medium heavy. The wood is of small size and not used commercially.
Specific gravity: 0.83
Janka Hardness: No data available
Wood Comparison Chart

Fruit persists on the tree over winter.

Hop Tree is not included in the United States Forest Service Silvics Manual.