Sticky Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa)

Sticky Hop Bush fruit.
Sticky Hop Bush fruit

Common names: Sticky Hop Bush, Hop Bush

Taxonomic name: Dodonea viscosa

Family: Sapindaceae

Habitat: Mallee, woodlands

Form: Small tree to 3 metres

Flowering Time: Spring and early Summer

Description and uses: 

Sticky Hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa) is a common tree in South Australia. It grows to about three metres tall. Its shiny, slightly sticky, slightly fragrant leaves that are coated with a resin give it its name and make it pretty easy to identify. The flowers are green to brown and occur July to September. The fruits change from green to purple or red as they mature.

It is called ‘Hop Bush’ because in the past, its bitter flowers and fruits have been used to flavour beer. It is also high on tannins and has been used to tan hide.

Probably the most important thing about this tree, from our perspective, is that it has been used by the Aboriginal folk and settlers as a cure for toothache. It works!

The young, green, fruits and young leaves were eaten for exhaustion. They’re pretty bitter though but that ties in with herbalism’s thoughts on the action of bitters as an energizer.

The whole plant is full of tannins. That means that crushing applying any part (mostly the leaves, of course) will stop the bleeding from minor cuts and scrapes. The best way (or the worst way depending on your taste) is to chew the leaves then apply the wad. Quick!

Crush up some leaves, chew them and press the wad onto the aching tooth and hold it there. The pain will subside quickly.

Researchers are currently evaluation compounds from Sticky Hop bush for anti-diabetic and antibacterial effects.

The flowers of Dodonaea viscosa
The flowers of Dodonaea viscosa

Hops fruit for flavouring beer in the old days.
The fruits have been used as a substitute for Hops in beer making.