Hops (Humulus lupulus)

A hops cone.
A hops cone.

Common names: Hops

Taxonomic name: Humulus lupulus

Family: Cannabaceae

Uses: Food, flavouring beer, sleeplessness

Area of origin: Europe, Western Asia, North America

Warnings: Can cause contact dermatitis in susceptible people.

Hops is an interesting plant. It’s not a ‘vine’, it’s a ‘bine’. It’s a bine because of the hairs that allow the plant to climb.

They are very vigorous plants, in season (Hops die back in Winter) and can climb very, very quickly – up to 10 metres in height. Ours seems happy to settle in at around 2 metres.

The bines are very vigorous

In a small garden, you will have to be vigilant. The Hops rhizome sends out runners which pop up close to the main plant and the number of shoots waving around the upright that it grows on would make a squid envious.This is good because we eat the young shoots as a green vegetable. The part that we use herbally is the female flower or seed cone.

The dried flowers can be used to make a rather bitter tea or used as stuffing inside a pillow. In both cases, the oils will help you to relax and drift off to sleep. When you make the tea, keep the cup covered until it cools down so that the oils don’t escape.