Hop

©Ferran Turmo Gort

Hop

Scientific name: Humulus lupulus
Well-known for its role in making beer, Hop is a climbing plant that can be seen in woodlands and along hedgerows and field edges. Its female flowers bear the cone-like fruit that is used in beer.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 5m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to September

About

Hop is a sun-loving, climbing plant that is most famous for its role in beer-making. It rambles through woodland, field edges, hedgerows and waste ground, growing in sunny areas. Hop bears male and female flowers on different plants: the male flowers are small, but the female ones are like large, scaled apples and are unmistakeable. Glands within these flowers contain essential oils and have a distinctive, yeasty-garlic smell.

How to identify

A scrambling climber of hedges, Hop has nettle-like, deeply lobed leaves. Its flowers are greeny-yellow; male flowers grow in loose groups, while female flowers are catkins, shaped like a cone. It is the female flowers that turn to fruit, which are cone-shaped and brown when ripe.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK, but most common in England.

Did you know?

Until the end of the Middle Ages, other plants were being used to preserve and flavour beer, but the flower cones of Hops enabled beer to be preserved for longer and gave the ale a distinctive taste. By the end of the 16th century, beer-drinking was popular across England and Hops were grown extensively for its production.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.