Ptelea trifoliata: wafer-ash [hop-tree]
Family: Rutaceae [citrus], part of the sapindoid group [with maples].
Form: large loosely branched shrub or miniature tree (to 10-20 feet), with long-running roots that sucker; plants usually male or female.
Range: eastern and (with subspecies) south-central North America; scattered across central and western Kentucky, but most frequent in the Bluegrass (uplands and lowlands), Knobs or nearby.
Habitat: thin woods and edges, especially along rocky slopes and streams; on base-rich soils, often droughty in summer-fall.
Consumers: leaves and stems aromatic, bitter, avoided by mammals; stressed plants may be damaged by insects, mites, fungi.
Growing notes: seed germinates after winter; seedlings may grow slowly, but after 2-3 years in full sun and good soil produce fragrant flowers, then seed clusters (“hops”); attractive and unusual for gardens.