Common Name hops
Form herbaceous vine
Light sun to part
Edible shoots, beverages
Humulus lupulus (common hop or hop) is a species of flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, native to Europe, western Asia and North America. It is a dioecious, perennial, herbaceous climbing plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to a cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. Strictly speaking it is a bine rather than a vine, using its own shoots to act as supports for new growth.
H. lupulus is the main ingredient of many beers, and as such is widely cultivated for use by the brewing industry. The fragrant flower cones impart bitterness and flavor, and also have preservative qualities. It contains myrcene, humulene,xanthohumol, myrcenol, linalool, tannins, and resin. Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people, with Hops dermatitis has long been recognized. Not only hands and face, but legs have suffered purpuric eruptions due to hop picking. Although only 1 in 3,000 workers is estimated to be treated, one in 30 are believed to suffer dermatitis. Dislodged hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes. Sedative effect may worsen depression. Avoid during pregnancy (due to antispasmodic action on uterus). Avoid with breast, uterine and cervical cancers.
Young leaves and young shoots can be eaten cooked. The flavour is unique and, to many tastes, delicious. Young leaves can be eaten in salads. Use before the end of May/ June. The leaves contain rutin. The fleshy rhizomes are sometimes eaten. A tea is made from the leaves and cones, which has a gentle calming effect. The dried flowering heads of female plants are used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. They are also medicinal. The flowering heads are sprinkled with bitter-tasting yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance. This substance prevents gram-negative bacteria from growing in the beer or wort. Much of the hop's use as a flavouring and medicinal plant depends on the abundance of this powdery substance. The seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is said to have many important functions in the human body and is rarely found in plant sources. The essential oil in the flowering heads is used as a flavouring in cereal beverages and mineral waters. Extracts from the plant, and the oil, are used as flavouring in non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and puddings.