Humulus lupulus “Common Hop” Cannabaceae

Missoula, MT
September 12, 2015
Robert Niese

The Common Hop grows particularly well in the PNW and Washington state alone produces nearly a quarter of the world’s hops. Humulus is a member of a rather odd family of flowering plants, the Cannabaceae, which tend to have drab flowers (often unisexual) that lack petals and rely on wind for pollination. In the Common Hop specifically, the structure that is utilized for beer production (the hop) is actually a modified inflorescence of female flowers hiding beneath leaf-like scales called bracts. Beneath each of those bracts, the female flowers produce a the diversity of compounds which, through selective breeding efforts across the centuries, impart bitterness and complex aromas to the beer.