Ptelea trifoliata

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: hop tree
Type: Tree
Family: Rutaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Flowering Tree
Flower: Fragrant, Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

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.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hop tree is a dense, rounded, Missouri native, deciduous shrub or small tree which occurs in open 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. Terminal clusters (cymes) of tiny white flowers appear in late spring, but are not particularly showy. Carrion flies pollinate the flowers. Flowers give way to pendulous seed clusters, each seed being encased in a thin, circular, winged disc (1" diameter samara). Seeds mature to brown in late summer and persist through most of the winter. This tree has several very descriptive common names: (a) hop tree (in reference to a prior use of the seeds as a substitute for hops), (b) wafer ash (in reference to the thin, wafer-like appearance of the seed and (c) stinking ash (in reference to the unpleasant smell of not only the flowers but also bruised foliage and bark). Genus name of Ptelea is from Greek (meaning elm) in recognition of the similarity of the seed to that of elms.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spots.

Garden Uses

Tree or shrub. Specimen or groups. Effective as a large, informal hedge or screen.