Humulus lupulus

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Common hop
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Humulus
H. lupulus
Binomial name
Humulus lupulus
  • Humulus cordifolius Miq.
  • Humulus volubilis Salisb. nom. illeg.
  • Humulus vulgaris Gilib.
  • Lupulus amarus Gilib.
  • Lupulus communis Gaertn.
  • Lupulus humulus Mill.
  • Lupulus scandens Lam. nom. illeg.

Humulus lupulus, the common hop or hops, is a species of flowering plant in the hemp family Cannabaceae, native to Europe, western Asia and North America.[2] It is a perennial, herbaceous climbing plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to a cold-hardy rhizome in autumn.[3] It is dioecious (separate male and female plants).

Hops are sometimes described as bine plants rather than vines because they have stiff downward facing hairs that provide stability and allow them to climb.[4] These shoots allow H. lupulus to grow anywhere from 4.6 to 6.1 metres (15 to 20 ft).[2] Hops have fragrant, wind-pollinated flowers[5] that attract butterflies.[2]

The female cone-shaped fruits from H. lupulus are used by breweries to preserve and flavor beer, and so H. lupulus is widely cultivated for use by the brewing industry.[3] The fragrant flower cones, known as hops, impart a bitter flavor, and also have aromatic and preservative qualities.[6] H. lupulus contains myrcene, humulene, xanthohumol, myrcenol, linalool, tannins, and resin.


The genus name Humulus is a medieval name that was at some point latinized after being borrowed from a Germanic source exhibiting the h•m•l consonant cluster, as in Middle Low German homele.

According to Soviet Iranist V. Abaev this could be a word of Sarmatian origin which is present in the modern Ossetian language (Ossetian: Хуымæллæг) and derives from proto-Iranian hauma-arayka, an Aryan haoma.[7]

From Sarmatian dialects this word spread across Eurasia, thus creating a group of related words in Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Slavic and Germanic languages (see Russian: хмель, Chuvash хăмла, Finnish humala, Hungarian komló, Mordovian комла, Avar хомеллег).

The specific epithet lupulus is Latin for "small wolf".[2] The name refers to the plant's tendency to strangle other plants, mainly osiers or basket willows (Salix viminalis), like a wolf does a sheep.[4] Hops could be seen growing over these willows so often that it was named the willow-wolf.[2]

The English word hop is derived from the Middle Dutch word hoppe, also meaning Humulus lupulus.[8]


Humulus lupulus is a perennial herbaceous plant up to 10 meters tall, living up to 20 years.[4] It has simple leaves with 3-5 deep lobes that can be opposite or alternate .[9] The staminate (male) flowers do not have petals, while the pistillate (female) flowers’ petals completely cover the fruit. The cones found on female plants are called strobili.[4] The fruit of H. lupulus is an achene, meaning that the fruit is dry and does not split open at maturity.[9] The achene is surrounded by tepals and lupulin-secreting glands are concentrated on the fruit.[10][11]

Humulus lupulus grows best in the latitude range of 38°-51° in full sun with moderate amounts of rainfall.[3] It uses the longer summer days as a cue for when to flower, [12] which is usually around July/ August.[13]

Humulus lupulus can cause dermatitis to some who handle them. It is estimated that about 1 in 30 people are affected by this.[11]


Cultivation of hops in Ystad 2017.
'Golden' hop

The five varieties of this species (Humulus lupulus) are:

  • H. l. var. lupulus – Europe, western Asia
  • H. l. var. cordifolius – eastern Asia
  • H. l. var. lupuloides (syn. H. americanus) – eastern North America
  • H. l. var. neomexicanus - western North American.[14]
  • H. l. var. pubescens – midwestern and eastern North America [15][16]

Many cultivated varieties are found in the list of hop varieties. A yellow-leafed ornamental cultivar, Humulus lupulus 'Aureus', is cultivated for garden use. It is also known as golden hop, and holds the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM).[17][18]


Humulus lupulus is first mentioned in 768 CE when King Pepin donated hops to a monastery in Paris. Cultivation was first recorded in 859 CE, in documents from a monastery in Freising, Germany.[19]

Use in brewing[edit]

The chemical compounds found in H. lupulus are main components in flavoring and bittering beer. Some other compounds help with creating foam in beer. Chemicals such as linalool and aldehydes contribute to the flavor of beer. The main components of bitterness in beer are iso-alpha acids, with many other compounds contributing to the overall bitterness of beer.[20] Until the Middle Ages, Myrica gale was the most common plant used for brewing beer.[19] H. lupulus took off as a flavoring agent for beer because it contains preserving agents, making the beer viable for longer.

Pests and diseases[edit]

Animal pests[edit]



Humulus lupulus was voted the county flower of Kent in 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife.[21]


  • Humulus lupulus contains xanthohumol, which is converted by large intestine bacteria into the phytoestrogen 8-prenylnaringenin, which may have a relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors [22] as well as potentiating effects on GABAA receptor activity[23]
  • Humulus lupulus extract is antimicrobial, an activity which has been exploited in the manufacture of natural deodorant.[24]
  • Spent H. lupulus extract has also been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activities, raising the possibility this waste product of the brewing industry could be developed for medical applications.[25]
  • Extracts of the bitter alpha-acids present in H. lupulus have been shown to decrease nocturnal activity, acting as a sleep aide, in certain concentrations.[26]


  1. ^ "Humulus lupulus L.". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2 February 2016 – via The Plant List.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Humulus lupulus". Plant Finder. Missouri botanical Garden. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  3. ^ a b c Sewalish, Andrew. "Habitat & Adaptation". Humulus lupulus profile. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  4. ^ a b c d Conway, Sean; Snyder, Reid (2008). "Humulus lupulus - Hops" (PDF). College Seminar 235 Food for Thought: The Science, Culture, & Politics of Food. Hamilton College. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "Hops, Humulus lupulus, plant facts". Eden Project. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  6. ^ Langezaal CR, Chandra A, Scheffer JJ (1992). "Antimicrobial screening of essential oils and extracts of some Humulus lupulus L. cultivars". Pharm Weekbl Sci. 14 (6): 353–356. doi:10.1007/bf01970171. PMID 1475174. S2CID 12561634.
  7. ^ Абаев В. И. Историко-этимологический словарь осетинского языка. Т. 4. М.—Л., 1989. С. 261-262.
  8. ^ Harper, Douglas. "hop". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  9. ^ a b "Humulus lupulus (common hop, hops)". Go Botany. New England Wildflower Society. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  10. ^ Burnham, Robyn J. (2014). "Vitis riparia". CLIMBERS: Censusing Lianas in Mesic Biomes of Eastern Regions. University of Michigan College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  11. ^ a b "Humulus lupulus". NewCROP, the New Crop Resource Online Program. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  12. ^ "HerbalGram: Hops (Humulus lupulus): A Review of its Historic and Medicinal Uses". Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  13. ^ "Hop, Humulus lupulus - Flowers". NatureGate. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  14. ^ "Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  15. ^ "Humulus lupulus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  16. ^ "Humulus lupulus var. pubescens". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA.
  17. ^ "Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' AGM". RHS Plant Selector. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  18. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 43. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  19. ^ a b Behre, Karl-Ernst (1999). "The history of beer additives in Europe - a review". Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. 8 (1–2): 35–48. doi:10.1007/BF02042841. S2CID 129429552.
  20. ^ Schönberger, C.; Kostelecky, T. (2011). "125th Anniversary Review: The Role of Hops in Brewing" (PDF). Journal of the Institute of Brewing. 117 (3): 259–267. doi:10.1002/j.2050-0416.2011.tb00471.x.
  21. ^ Plantlife website County Flowers page Archived 2015-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Milligan SR, Kalita JC, Heyerick A, Rong H, De Cooman L, De Keukeleire D (June 1999). "Identification of a potent phytoestrogen in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer". J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 84 (6): 2249–52. doi:10.1210/jcem.84.6.5887. PMID 10372741.
  23. ^ Benkherouf, Ali Y.; Soini, Sanna L.; Stompor, Monika; Uusi-Oukari, Mikko (February 2019). "Positive allosteric modulation of native and recombinant GABAA receptors by hops prenylflavonoids". European Journal of Pharmacology. 852: 34–41. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.02.034. ISSN 0014-2999. PMID 30797788. S2CID 73456325.
  24. ^ "Hops [CO2] Extract". Toms of Maine. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  25. ^ Rozalski M, Micota B, Sadowska B, Stochmal A, Jedrejek D, Wieckowska-Szakiel M, Rozalska B (2013). "Antiadherent and Antibiofilm Activity of Humulus lupulus L. Derived Products: New Pharmacological Properties". BioMed Research International. 2013: 1–7. doi:10.1155/2013/101089. PMC 3794639. PMID 24175280.
  26. ^ Franco, L.; Sánchez, C.; Bravo, R.; Rodriguez, A.; Barriga, C.; Juánez, Javier Cubero (2012-06-01). "The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm". Acta Physiologica Hungarica. 99 (2): 133–139. doi:10.1556/APhysiol.99.2012.2.6. ISSN 0231-424X. PMID 22849837.

External links[edit]