Wonderful world of native plants

Native or not: Hops in New Mexico

By Rachel Jankowitz
Native Plant Society of New Mexico Conservation Committee Chair
Posted 1/10/19

The question came up in conversation on a recent field trip, whether hops are native to New Mexico. Hops are added during the brewing process to stabilize and flavor beer and to add bitterness.

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Wonderful world of native plants

Native or not: Hops in New Mexico

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The question came up in conversation on a recent field trip, whether hops are native to New Mexico. Hops as a species, Humulus lupulus (family Cannabaceae), have a broad north-temperate distribution in West Asia, Europe and North America. And yes, one of the North American subspecies, H. l. neomexicana, is native to our state. However, various old-world and eastern varieties have been planted around homesteads for centuries and may be mistaken for or hybridize with H. l. neomexicana.

Hops are added during the brewing process to stabilize and flavor beer and to add bitterness. Most of the hops used for brewing are European cultivars, often available in the form of pellets or extract, but some New Mexico breweries are working with the native subspecies.

H. lupulus is a perennial herbaceous vine, dying back to the corm (rootstock) every winter. It is not to be confused with the native hop-tree, Ptelea trifoliata, a member of the Rutaceae family. Ptelea is a small tree or shrub, whose fruits slightly resemble those of Humulus, and have a similar bracing citrusy odor. Hop-tree fruits were historically used as a hop substitute in home brewing. Ptelea is an important larval host for the giant swallowtail butterfly.

Rachel Jankowitz is the NPSNM Conservation Committee Chair. This article originally appeared in “New Mexico’s Voice for Native Plants: Newsletter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico”, Vol. XXXXIII No. 4, 2018.

How to contact Taos Chapter

This column is printed every second Thursday of the month. For questions or suggestions, please contact Jan Martenson, President of the Taos Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico, at TaosNPS@gmail.com or call (575) 751-0511. Get in on the fun and support the education and outreach efforts of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico by joining: npsnm.org/about/join/. Be sure to select Taos as your Chapter Affiliation.

Calendar for Native Plant Society of New Mexico - Taos Chapter

We are currently in our winter dormant period until early 2019. Our first meeting in 2019 will be on Wednesday, March 20 and will feature a presentation by staff of the Taos Land Trust about the Rio Fernando Park revitalization project.

Videos of past meetings can be found here.

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