Genus of the Month
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you might also want to visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family. Also, you can see my contribution to the
Conservation New England web site, entitled
"The Introduction of Non-Native Plants into Massachusetts".
This month's genus:
Family: Moraceae (or sometimes Cannabaceae)
Number of Species: at least 2, with many cultivars of H. lupulus
Root: From Latin, poss. a reference to the ground or soil ("humus")
The genus Humulus is perhaps best known for H. lupulus (Hops), the species whose flowers are used to brew beer. Hops are dioecious plants, meaning that male and female flowers are found on separate plants. It is primarily the female flowers that are used in beer. Hops adds a bitter taste to the brew, but more importantly, they act as a preservative, a prized quality when beer was first being brewed almost a thousand years ago. The young shoots of these perennial vines are edible, and Hops extract is used for its herbal properties.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Humulus species:
- Here's a scan of a color drawing of H. lupulus, from Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé.
- Here are two nice photos of H. japonicus, from a Japanese web site.
- Find out more about the putative herbal properties of H. lupulus, from the Vitamin Planet, or from a better page by Snowbound Herbals.
- Of course, after learning a little about Hops, you are now dying to learn how to brew your own beer. Start
here, at the National Hops Association of England.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Kitsock, Greg. (1997) "Once Upon a Vine: A Brief History of Hops". Zymurgy. 20 (4): 9-14.
Current Genus of the Week
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