Ptelea trifoliata

Botanical Name : Ptelea trifoliata
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Ptelea
Species: P. trifoliata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms: Swamp Dogwood. Shrubby Trefoil. Wingseed. Hop Tree.

Common Names :Hop Tree, Common hoptree, Pallid hoptree  , Stinking ash, Wafer ash

Habitat : Ptelea trifoliata is  native to Eastern N. America – Quebec and New York to Florida, west to Texas and Kansas .It grows in moist places, rocky slopes, edges of woods, alluvial thickets and gravels. It is found in many different soil types.

Description:
Ptelea trifoliata is a small deciduous tree, or often a shrub of a few spreading stems, 6–8 m (20–26 ft) tall with a broad crown. The plant has thick fleshy roots, flourishes in rich, rather moist soil. In the Mississippi embayment (Mississippi River Valley) it is found most frequently on rocky slopes as part of the undergrowth. Its juices are acrid and bitter and the bark possesses tonic properties.
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The twigs are slender to moderately stout, brown with deep U-shaped leaf scars, and with short, light brown, fuzzy buds. The leaves are alternate, 5–18 cm long, palmately compound with three (rarely five) leaflets, each leaflet 1–10 cm long, sparsely serrated or entire, shiny dark green above, paler below. The western and southwestern forms have smaller leaves (5–11 cm) than the eastern forms (10–18 cm), an adaptation to the drier climates there.

The flowers are small, 1–2 cm across, with 4-5 narrow, greenish white petals, produced in terminal, branched clusters in spring: some find the odor unpleasant but to others trifoliata has a delicious scent. The fruit is a round wafer-like papery samara, 2-2.5 cm across, light brown, maturing in summer. Seed vessel has a thin wing and is held on tree until high winds during early winter

The bark is reddish brown to gray brown, short horizontal lenticels, warty corky ridges, becoming slightly scaly, unpleasant odor and bitter taste. It has several Native American uses as a seasoning and as an herbal medicine for different ailments.

*Bark: Dark reddish brown, smooth. Branchlets dark reddish brown, shining, covered with small excrescences. Bitter and ill-scented.

*Wood: Yellow brown; heavy, hard, close-grained, satiny. Sp. gr., 0.8319; weight of cu. ft., 51.84 lbs.

*Winter buds: Small, depressed, round, pale, covered with silvery hairs.

*Leaves: Alternate, compound, three-parted, dotted with oil glands. Leaflets sessile, ovate or oblong, three to five inches long, by two to three broad, pointed at base, entire or serrate, gradially pointed at apex. Feather-veined, midrib and primary veins prominent. They come out of the bud conduplicate, very downy, when full grown are dark green, shining above, paler green beneath. In autumn they turn a rusty yellow. Petioles stout, two and a half to three inches long, base enlarged. Stipules wanting.

*Flowers: May, June. Polygamomonoecious, greenish white. Fertile and sterile flowers produced together in terminal, spreading, compound cymes; the sterile being usually fewer, and falling after the anther cells mature. Pedicels downy.

*Calyx: Four or five-parted, downy, imbricate in the bud.

*Corolla: Petals four or five, white, downy, spreading, hypogynous, imbricate in bud.

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*Stamens: Five, alternate with the petals, hypogynous, the psitillate flowers with rudimentary anters; filaments awl-shaped, more or less hairy; anthers ovate or cordate, two-celled, cells opening longitudinally.

*Pistils: Ovary superior, hairy, abortive in the staminate flowers, two to three-celled; style short; stigma two to three-lobed; ovules two in each cell.
*Fruit: Samara, orbicular, surrounded by a broad, many-veined reticulate membranous ring, two-seeded. Ripens in October and hangs in clusters until midwinter.

Cultiv:ation: 
Succeeds in any fertile well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or light part day shade. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A very ornamental plant, it is slow-growing and short-lived in the wild. The sub-species P. trifoliata mollis. Torr.&Gray. is the form that is eaten by children. The leaves are aromatic. All parts of the plant emit a disagreeable odour. The flowers are especially pungent and are pollinated by carrion flies. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification at 5°c and should be sown as early as possible in the year. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Very little of the seed produced in Britain is viable. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Fruit. A very bitter flavour, though it is eaten by young children. The fruit is also used as a hop substitute when making beer and it is added to yeast to make it rise more quickly when making bread. The fruit is produced abundantly in Britain, though very little of it is fertile. The fruit is very thin and about 25mm long.
Part Used: Root-bark.

Constituents:The bark contains at least three active constituents, a powerful volatile oil, a salt, acrid resin, and an alkaloid: Berberine. The alkaloid Arginine is also stated to be present in the root.

Medicinal Uses:

Anthelmintic; Antibacterial; Antiperiodic; Antirheumatic; Miscellany; Stomachic; Tonic.

The root-bark is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiperiodic, stomachic and tonic. It has been mixed with other medicines in order to give added potency. It has a soothing influence on the mucous membranes and promotes the appetite, being tolerated when other tonics cannot be retained. It is also taken in the treatment of intermittent fevers such as malaria, heartburn, roundworms, pinworms and poor digestion. Externally it is applied to wounds. The roots are harvested in the autumn, the bark peeled off and dried for later use. The roots are a tonic, used in the treatment of asthmatic breathing, fevers, poor appetite etc. The leaves are said to be useful in the treatment of wounds and also in the destruction of intestinal worms.

The bark has tonic, antiperiodic and stomachic properties, and has been employed in dyspepsia and debility, and also in febrile diseases, especially in those requiring a mild, non-irritating bitter tonic, as it has a soothing influence upon the mucous membrane and promotes appetite, being tolerated when other tonics cannot be retained.

It is also useful in chronic rheumatism.

Other Uses:
Numerous cultivars have been developed for ornamental use in parks and gardens.Sometimes used as a hedge plant in N. America. Wood – hard, heavy, close grained. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot but the tree does not grow large enough for commercial exploitation

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashwa078.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptelea_trifoliata

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ptelea+trifoliata

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