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.

Wafer Ash leaves and flowers
Wafer Ash leaves and flowers. Image:


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