Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Ptelea trifoliata, Common Hoptree

Common Hoptree, Wafer-ash has greenish-white or pale yellow flowers that bloom from April to Texas. Ptelea trifoliata Common Hoptree has wafer-like fruit with broad wings, leaves are trifoliate with ovate or lanceolate leaves. Ptelea trifoliataCommon Hoptree, or Western Hoptree is a shrub or small tree that grows to 20 feet high with brown or dark purple twigs. Ptelea trifoliataFruits of the Common Hoptree are called Samaras. These are wafer-like in appearance with large wings. Ptelea trifoliataLeaves of the Common Hoptree are compound, trifoliate. Leaves are dark green, lustrous on the surface, duller on the underside. Ptelea trifoliata

Scientific Name: Ptelea trifoliata
Common Name: Common Hoptree
Also Called: Hoptree, Wafer Ash, Western Hoptree, Spanish (Cola de Zorillo)
Family: Rutaceae, Rue or Citrus Family
Synonyms: (Ptelea angustifolia)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 20 feet high.
Growth Form: Shrub or small tree; bark of twigs brown or dark purple.
Leaves: Green, dark green or bluish-green, turning yellow in fall; may be glaucous beneath, lustrous above; leaves compound, trifoliolate or trifoliate, leaflets ovate or lanceolate.
Flower Color: Greenish-white to pale yellow; small flowers; fruit wafer-like samara with wings.
Flowering Season: May and June; April in Texas.
Elevation: 3,500 to 8,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Common in pine belt, often in canyons.

Recorded Range: Ptelea trifoliata is found in the central south, and eastern ½ of the United States; and as far north as Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Ptelea trifoliata is essentially an eastern and northern species and populations in Arizona and Utah represent the southern and western most limits of this species in North America.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Ptelea trifoliata.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Ptelea trifoliata has the following wetland designations: Arid West, UPL; Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FACU; Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FAC; Great Plains, FAC; Midwest, FACU; Northcentral & Northeast, FACU; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, UPL.
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands.

Threatened/Endangered Information: In North America Ptelea trifoliata is listed as Threatened or Endangered by the following 3 states; New Jersey, Wafer-ash, Endangered; New York, Wafer-ash, Endangered; Pennsylvania, Common Hop-tree, Threatened.

Genus Information: In North America there are 3 species and 15 accepted taxa overall for Ptelea. World wide, The Plant List includes 5 accepted species names with 15 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwest United States; Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas and Utah each have 1 species of Ptelea, Nevada has 0 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 8 varieties and 4 sub-species in Ptelea trifoliata.

Comments: Ptelea trifoliata is widespread and variable in leaf shape across the United States with 8 varieties and 4 sub-species. The genus Ptelea is a member of Rutaceae, the Citrus family. To some, Ptelea trifoliata looks and smells like hops. There are reports of the bitter fruits of this species being used to make hops. This species has been reported as perhaps causing dermatitis in some people.

Date Profile Completed: 07/21/2016, updated format 10/02/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed )
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Ptelea angustifolia.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 07/21/2016).
Elmore, Francis H., Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands, © 1976, Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 07/20/2016]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information 07/20/2016).