There it is. a small tree with glossy, pungent leaves shaped much like those of poison ivy, a tree with a disagreeable odor and seeds which at first seem to resemble those of slippery elm. A small, not conspicuous tree - hop tree or wafer ash. It is related neither to the hops nor to the ashes, hut belongs in the same family as the citrus fruits.
Ptelea trifoliata L.
June Wooded hills.
It is a curious sort of low tree. Only two members of its family-hop tree and prickly ash - live as natives in Illinois; the remainder of the family is Old World or native to the southern hemisphere.
Hop tree actually is a tall shrub which grows in hilly woods of Illinois. It is never too common, but it is not really rare. The glossy. three-parted leaves are bitter-aromatic, and are full of that characteristic-odor of hops. The leaves have attained their full size, compound in groups of three, when the clusters of small greenish flowers, four or five parted with a protruding pistil and disagreeable odor, are in bloom. They are followed by a loose, large cluster of winged fruits which are elm-like in shape, a resemblance which is more striking later in the season when they dry and rattle in the winds of autumn and winter. Even in winter. the hop tree possesses its curious odor, for the downy stems when broken emit a marked scent reminiscent of tangles of hop vines quivering in the summer wind.
The botanical name. Ptelea, was given to the hop tree because of the elm-like shape of the seeds, for Ptelea is the Greek name for the elm.