What it looks like

Common hoptree is recognizable by its compound leaves made of 3 dark green leaflets on a central stalk. When bruised, they smell like citrus. The flowers appear in small greenish-white clusters but are noticed for their fragrance. The wafer-like fruits resemble large elm seeds, and may persist into winter.

Where it is found

Common hoptree is actually rare in Canada, though plentiful in the eastern United States. It is only known to occur in southwestern Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie. It is listed as Threatened and is protected by the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 8 m tall
  • Moisture: Moist to dry
  • Shade: Prefers full sun, tolerates partial shade
  • Soil: Requires well-drained soils, sand or loam best

These small trees prefer sandy shorelines and the edges of woodlands. Small seedlings may be confused for poison ivy.

If you are interested in planting common hoptree as part of the Recovery Strategy, contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Species at Risk biologist.

Did you know?

In the past, the dried winged fruits have been used as a substitute for hops in the process of brewing beer.

Image credits

  • Tree: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Leaf: Vern Wilkins
  • Bark: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Fruit: Sean Fox
Updated: October 06, 2021
Published: October 21, 2014