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COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the common hoptree in Canada

Species Information

Name and Classification

Scientific Name:
Ptelea trifoliata L
Common Names:
common hoptree
Family Name:
Rutaceae (rue family)
Major Plant Group:
Angiosperm (dicot flowering plant)

Common hoptree is taxonomically distinct in its northern range, but occurs with other Ptelea species and subspecies in southwestern North America. Details of related species and named subspecific taxa are given in Bailey, 1962 and summarized in the original status report (Ambrose & Aboud, 1982).


Common hoptree is a small tree or large shrub with smooth reddish-brown bark, alternate trifoliate aromatic leaves; flowers occur in early summer; they are fragrant, cream coloured with (4-)5 petals, borne in terminal clusters with each tree having all male or all female flowers (i.e., dioecious, but rarely an individual with male clusters and a few female flowers in the centre). The fruit is winged, disk-shaped, indehiscent and dry, containing 2(-3) seeds (Figure 1). For a full description see Ambrose & Aboud, 1982. Photographs are available at Environment Canada and ROM/OMNRspecies at risk web sites.

Figure 1. Common hoptree branch with leaves and ripe fruit (illustration by Susan Laurie-Bourque, courtesy of Canadian Museum of Nature).

 Common hoptree branch with leaves and ripe fruit