Ptelea trifoliata is a bush or small tree native to eastern part of North America. It have long tradiction of medicinal use and even being esteemed as sacred by Menomini tribe. Although root bark of this plant is praised by some medics as a supreme tonic, comparable to quinine, it is today not popular in its homeland and nearly unknown as a herb anywhere else. In early 19th century its popularity in USA as a great respiratory drug, uplifted its prices so high, that later it become a bit forgoten. Ptelea's fruits are used as a hop substitute in brewery, hence its common name Hop Tree, and was growing for this purpose in certain parts of Russia. Other common names of this plant are : Wafer Ash, Tree Trefoil, Stinking Ash, Quinine Tree and Shrubby Trefoil. It is often planted in its homeland as well as in Europe, for its ornamental purposes, and it is more about its samasara kind of a fruits than about its flowers. There are also highly attractive cultivars with (all year round, untill fall ) golden leaves - Ptelea trifoliata var. aurea and some variegated forms. Whole plant have yields strong smell when brushed, it have a citrusy note ( it is far relative of citruses ) and a hint of hops, but many people found this fragnance unpleasant. Some people found even smell of flowers to be too intense, other praise it, comparing it to that of an orange and honeysuckle flowers.
Ptelea trifoliata is slow growing bush that can become small tree, up to 8m high. It can be pruned to sustain as a dense bush. Naturally it ussually appear in woodlands or on brinks of forests, so it prefer semi-shade but can also tolerate full shade or full sun. It like wet but not to boggy soils. It is said to tolerate any pH of soil. It can stand cold temperatures even to -30'C. Tiny, but very fragnant, typical citrusy flowers gathered in clusters appear in early summer, followed by small samasara, wafer fruits in late summer. Those fruits ussually lasts on trees till spring. Bark and root bark should be colected after fruit is ripe but before the leaves begin to fade. Leaves should be collected in late summer, flowers and fruits when fully developped. In sunny days, skin protection is highly advised while dealing with this plant, just like with Rue and some citrus plants, as direct contact might couse photosensitivity and result with the same dermatisis.
Hop Tree is most common name for this plant. Its samsara kind of a fruits are used as a hop substitute for brewing beers and make a nice herbal tea that support digestion and revitalised body. It is also added when making bread to yeast to make it rise quicker.
North American Indian tribe, Menomini praised Ptelea trifoliata as a sacred plant, its bark and root bark are used as a panacea and is added to other herbs to increase their effectivness. It is said to be excellent tonic, of which cold infusions not iritate mucus membranes, like most of tonics do and sooth them when their are iritated. Root bark was mostly used part of Ptelea trifoliata in Eclectic herbalism and tinctures are said to be the most effective. There are reports about treatment of asthma, that starts with present relief, but might couse - '' a troublelesome external erysipelatous inflamation, either general or local but which if use of tincture be persisted in, finaly disappears, and the patient becomes at the same time permatently cured of the disease for which he was treated.'' ( ''King's American Dispensatory'' John King 1854 ). Ptelea's bark is also used to increase appetite and digestion, dissolve calculi, for rheumatism, intermittent and remittent fevers, malaria, bronhitis, phthisis, syphilis, scrofula, pineworms, roundworms, diarrhoea, muscles pain, anorexia, general debility and convalescence. It contain insoluble in water oleoresin, tanic and galic acids, berberine, arginine, cumarine, dictamnine, saponins, many specific quinoline alkaloids and voltile oil.
It act as a tonic, stimulant, stomachic, orexigenic, expectorant, alterative, analgesic, antipiretc, antibacterial, antifungal, antiperiodic, astringent, anthelmitic, intoxicant, vulnerary and diaphoretic. Leaves, fruits and flowers have similar but weaker actions and can be used in the same manner. Water infusions of any part of the plant, or crushed leaves can be applied on wounds as an promoting healing antiseptic.
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, botanist and medicinal biochemist, wrote in her book, that pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn't even handle this tree, becouse of its high cumarin content. This plant can also cause photosensitization of the skin and dermatitis may appear, as a resoult of open contact on sunny days.
'' Historical Review of Ptelea trifoliata in Botanical and Medical Literature '' - Virginia Long Bailey
'' Florida Etnobotany '' - Daniel F. Austin, CRC Press 2004
'' American Medicinal Plants ''- Charles F. Millspaugh, Dover Publications Inc. 1974
'' Arboretum America - A Philosophy of the Forest '' - Diana Beresford-Kroeger,
University of Michigan Press 2003
'' Let's Get Natural with Herbs'' - Debra Rayburn, Ozark Moutain Publishing 2007
''The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses'' - Deni Brown, DK 2002