Texas Natives – October, 2007
An early American brewmeister would be busy harvesting the fruit of hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata) this month. Native to wetter areas of Texas and many other states in the U.S., hoptree is a deciduous understory shrub or small tree to 25 feet. Small, greenish-white flowers appear in early spring, their intensely sweet fragrance attracting the attention of gardeners and pollinators alike. The pendulous clusters of thin, wafer-like green fruit adorn trees in mid-summer, drying to a light-tan color and resembling potato chips, hence the name potato chip tree. The inedible fruit of hoptree was once used as a substitute for hops in beer-making, however, the fruit can be dried and seed stored for propagation of this attractive native plant.
For more on this plant, and to see what’s happening at Texas Discovery Gardens this month, go to www.texasdiscoverygardens.org/texasnatives.htm.
About the author: Tina Dombrowski is the Director of Horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Dallas. She has a particular interest in Texas native plants, butterflies, pollinating insects and their interconnected histories.