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Photo: Dave Mitchell 2001

Hop: Humulus lupulus

This twining, herbaceous, native climber has large, deeply lobed leaves. Male and female hop flowers are produced on separate plants: the males are branched yellow-green clusters and the females form pale yellow-green, cone-like catkins. When ripe, the female catkins turn a light brown and hang in delicate and papery clusters. The plant was mainly grown for use in the brewing industry, where it is an important flavouring in beers.

Hop is a useful species to scramble over a fence or shed or to cover something unsightly. 

It is one of the food plants of the Mother-of-pearl moth and the Red Admiral and Comma butterfly.

Historically the hop is first mentioned in the writings of Pliny. He speaks of it as a garden plant of the Romans who ate the young shoots in spring in the same way as we eat asparagus. In this country, the young tops of hop used to be brought to market tied up in small bunches for table use. Blanched, these tender young tips apparently made a good pot herb. The leaves and flowerheads have also been used to produce a fine brown dye.