IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial vine is up to 30' long; it dies back to the ground each year. The stems are stout, light green, and rather prickly-bristly. The opposite leaves are up to 6" long and 4" across; smaller leaves are usually oval-cordate in shape, but larger leaves are palmate with 3 lobes (rarely with 5). These leaves have a rough texture, coarse serration along the margins, and long petioles that are also prickly-bristly. At the base of each leaf is a pair of lanceolate stipules. The hairiness or pubescence of the stems and foliage is variable, if it is present at all. Usually, there are small white hairs along the major veins on the underside of each leaf. American Hops is dioecious, with male and female plants. The male plants produce drooping panicles of staminate flowers. These panicles are up to 12" long and 6" across, and contain numerous small flowers that are yellowish or whitish green. Each staminate flower has 5 sepals, 5 stamens, and no petals. It has a star-like appearance and spans about ¼" across, hanging downward from a slender pedicel that is often slightly pubescent. The non-sticky pollen is produced in great abundance and is easily dispersed into the air. The female plants produce odd-looking cone-shaped spikes of pistillate flowers (aments) from the axils of the leaves. A spike of pistillate flowers is up to 3" long and 1½" across, and usually hangs downward from the slender flowering stalk. It consists of overlapping green bracts that are ovate, with a pair of pistillate flowers tucked between each adjacent pair of bracts. Each pistillate flower consists of little more than an ovary with a sticky stigma that is long and slender. Both the male and female flowers bloom during the late summer for about 2 weeks. The male flowers quickly turn brown and wither away, while the aments of the female flowers persist longer and gradually turn brown. Each pistillate flower produces a capsule with a single seed that is resinous and aromatic. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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