Freitag, 11. November 2011

Plant of the Day (November 11th, 2011) - Humulus lupulus L.

This time, I want to show you Humulus lupulus L. from the Canabaceae family. In German, this species is called “Echter Hopfen” (true hops), while in English it's known as “common hop” or “wild hops”.

H. lupulus - habitus

Hops is a creeper, which can reach lengths between 3 to 6 metres (9.8 to 19.7 feet).The decussate leaves are lobed deeply but sometimes also undivided. Their dorsal site is dark-green and covered with some bristles, while the ventral site is brighter and with some yellowish glands. There are also stipules.

H. lupulus - female inflorescences

The species is dioecious. The male flowers are located in panicles, while the unconscious female flowers are fused with the bracts, which overgrow the female flowers. So, the “female inflorescence” looks similar to a cone.

H. lupulus is native to the temperate areas of Middle Europe and North America. It grows on wet or fresh soils with a high content of nitrogen. Typical habitats are floodplains, the edges of forests or hedges. Sometimes it can also be found in parks.

H. lupulus - female inflorescences

Of course, hops is probably best known of its role in the production of beer. Together with barley and malt, it's one of the three ingredients of beer and the chemical ingredients of hops give the beer the typical bitter taste. Some of this ingredients are myrcene or caryophyllenes. Their ratio determines the taste of the beer significantly. Therefore, hops is cultivated in many breeds today; each with a different ratio of chemical ingredients.

Some literature say, that hops contains oestrogens and because of this fact, the consume of too many beer leads to the growing of a breast. It's true, that oestrogens are ingredients of the hops, but its level is so low, that it cannot cause a hormonal reaction.

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