Other Common Names:
The other common names for the vine Hop are Common Hop, European Hops, Hoppu, Lupulin, Lupulo, Omerotu, Oubion and Serbetciotu.
The origin of the name of the Hop genus, Humulus, is considered doubtful, though it has been assumed by some writers that it is derived from humus, the rich moist ground in which the plant grows. The specific name Lupulus, is derived from the Latin, lupus (a wolf), because, as Pliny explains, when produced among osiers, it strangles them by its light, climbing embraces, as the wolf does a sheep.
The English name Hop comes from the Anglo-Saxon hoppan (to climb).Hops have a long and proven history of herbal use, where they are employed mainly for their soothing, sedative, tonic and calming effect on the body and the mind. Their strongly bitter flavour largely accounts for their ability to strengthen and stimulate the digestion, increasing gastric and other secretions. Hops is not only a famous beer ingredient, but is also used in medicine as a sedative.
Humulus lupulus is classified as a bine. A bine is similar to a vine but vines have tendrils, suckers, and other means of attaching themselves to aid in climbing. Bines use strong stems with stiff hairs to aid in climbing. Hop shoots grow very rapidly and at the peak of growth can grow 20-50 cm per week. The leaves are heart-shaped and lobed, on foot-stalks, and as a rule placed opposite one another on the stem, though sometimes the upper leaves are arranged singly on the stem, springing from alternate sides.
They are of a dark-green colour with their edges finely toothed. The flowers spring from the axils of the leaves. The Hop is dioecious, i.e. male and female flowers are on separate plants. The male flowers are in loose bunches or panicles, 3 to 5 inches long. The female flowers are in leafy cone-like catkins, called strobiles. When fully developed, the strobiles are about 1 1/4 inch long, oblong in shape and rounded, consisting of a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts, attached to a separate axis.
The bitterness in hops is derived from a gland within the hop flower called the lupulin gland. The gland contains tiny crystals called lupulin which impart a bitter flavour due to a substance called Alpha acid.
Hop is a native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere.Today,it is widely distributed on a commercial scale include Australia, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, North Korea, Poland, Slovenia, UK, and the USA.
Humulus lupulus can now be found growing wild in almost all areas of the globe. It is generally seen in hedgerows, woodlands and sunny waste ground. The plant prefers light sandy, medium loamy and heavy clay soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade light woodland or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
This plant is a cold-germinator. Sow in very early spring or autumn. Or keep cold in a refrigerator: Mix the seeds with damp sand in a plastic bag. Close it and place it in your refrigerator for 5 to 6 weeks. After that take the bag out and keep it at room temperature. Check for sprouted seed daily. Division in spring as new growth begins. Very easy, you can plant the divisions straight out into their permanent positions if required. Basal cuttings in March. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Place well dried and fresh hops in a plastic bag, in order to minimize exposure to oxygen. As much air as possible must be squeezed out of the bag before it is sealed, while crushing the hops in the process must be avoided - this is the best method of storing hops for the long term.
The flowers of the hop vine are the most commonly used parts for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
The flowers of the hops are numerous and of a greenish colour and are in bloom from mid to late summer.
Pests and Diseases
The hops are very vulnerable to many destructive plant viruses as well as several fungal plant diseases. The downy mildew in particular. Hops is also susceptible to attacks from plant eating spider mites and other insects like the flea beetles, the vine borers, and plant juice sucking aphid species. Insecticides and pesticides may need to be sprayed to control the disease and insects whenever necessary.
• The fruit is also applied externally as a poultice to ulcers, boils, painful swellings etc.
• When given to nursing mothers, lupulin increases the flow of milk.
• Hops are therefore used in combination with other herbs to treat such disorders as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and nervous stomach.
• An ointment, made by boiling two parts of Stramonium leaves and one of Hops in lard, is an excellent application in salt rheum, ulcers, and painful tumors.
• A syrup made of the juice and sugar cures yellow jaundice and eases the headache that comes of heat.
• Hops teas are also used to relieve the pain of bladder infections and give prompt ease to an irritable bladder.
• The main effects from the consumption of hops are mild sedation of the central nervous system. This may reduce tension and anxiety.
• It is also useful in after-pains, to prevent chordee, suppress venereal desires, etc.
• A pillow of warm Hops will often relieve toothache and earache.
• The most common commercial use of Humulus lupulus is as an additive to beer.
• Humulus lupulus is used in the production of beer as a natural preservative; it also adds a bitter taste to beer and contributes to the psychoactive effects.
• The leaves and flower-heads have been used also to produce a fine brown dye.
• An essential oil from the female fruiting heads is used in perfumery.
• Wreaths and garlands in Europe often include the dried cones in the decorative motif.
• Extracts of the plant are used in Europe in skin creams and lotions for their alleged skin-softening properties.
• Oil and other organic compounds extracted from the hops are used in many commercial products; it is used to flavour yeast, to flavour candy, to spice up ice creams and puddings, as well as to flavour gelatines, baked goods, and different types of chewing gums, different kinds of confectionery items as well as condiments of all kinds.