Humulus, hop, is a small genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The hop is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Hops are the female flowers (seed cones, strobiles) of the hop species H. lupulus; as a main flavor and aroma ingredient in many beer styles, H. lupulus is widely cultivated for use by the brewing industry.

Common Hop plant (Humulus lupulus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Humulus

Humulus lupulus L.
Humulus japonicus Siebold & Zucc.
Humulus yunnanensis Hu

  • Humulopsis Grudz.


Although frequently referred to in American literature as the hops "vine", it is technically a bine; unlike vines, which use tendrils, suckers, and other appendages for attaching themselves, bines have stout stems with stiff hairs to aid in climbing. In British literature the term “vine” is generally reserved for the grape genus Vitis. Humulus is described as a twining perennial herbaceous plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to the cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. Hop shoots grow very rapidly, and at the peak of growth can grow 20 to 50 centimetres (8 to 20 in) per week. Hop bines climb by wrapping clockwise (except for Humulus japonicus) around anything within reach, and individual bines typically grow between 2 to 15 metres (7 to 50 ft) depending on what is available to grow on. The leaves are opposite, with a 7 to 12 cm (2.8 to 4.7 in) leafstalk and a heart-shaped, fan-lobed blade 12 to 25 cm (4.7 to 9.8 in) long and broad; the edges are coarsely toothed. When the hop bines run out of material to climb, horizontal shoots sprout between the leaves of the main stem to form a network of stems wound round each other.[1]

Male and female flowers of the hop plant develop on separate plants (dioecious). Female plants, which produce the hop flowers used in brewing beer, are often propagated vegetatively and grown in the absence of male plants. This prevents pollination and the development of viable seeds, which are sometimes considered undesirable for brewing beer owing to the potential for off-flavors arising from the introduction of fatty acids from the seeds.[2]


There are three species, one with five varieties:

  • Humulus japonicus (syn. H. scandens). Asian hop. Leaves with 5–7 lobes. Eastern Asia.
  • Humulus yunnanensis Asian hop from Yunnan, China.[3]
  • Humulus lupulus. Common hop. Leaves with 3–5 lobes. Europe, western Asia, North America.[4]
    • Humulus lupulus var. lupulus. Europe, western Asia.
    • Humulus lupulus var. cordifolius. Eastern Asia.
    • Humulus lupulus var. lupuloides (syn. H. americanus). Eastern North America.
    • Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus. Western North America.[5]
    • Humulus lupulus var. pubescens. Midwest and eastern North America.[6][7]

Brewers' hops are specific cultivars, propagated by asexual reproduction, see the article, "List of hop varieties".

Hops applicationsEdit

Hops are boiled with the wort in brewing beer and sometimes added post-ferment; they impart a bitterness, flavor, as well as aroma to the finished product.[8]

In pharmacy lupulus is the designation of hop. The dried catkins, commonly referred to as hop cones, of the female plant of H. lupulus are used to prepare infusion of hop, tincture of hop, and extract of hop.[9]

Hops chemistry and pharmacologyEdit

The characteristic bitterness imparted by the addition of hops to the brewing process is mainly due to the presence of the bitter acids, which are prenylated acylphloroglucinol derivatives.[10] Bitter acids are divided into the alpha-acids, with humulone the major compound, and the beta-acids, with lupulone the major compound;[11] the alpha-acids isomerize during the brewing process to form iso-alpha acids, which themselves have a bitter taste.[12][13] These hop acids are vinylogous acids, with acidic ring enols in conjugation with ring and substituent carbonyl groups.[14]

[15] Plants in the genus Humulus produce terpenophenolic metabolites.[16] Hops also contain xanthohumol, a prenylated chalcone, and other compounds under preliminary research for their potential health properties.[17]


  1. ^ Brickell, Christopher, ed. (2008). The Royal Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 550. ISBN 9781405332965.
  2. ^ Interactive Agricultural Ecological Atlas of Russia and Neighboring Countries. Economic Plants and their Diseases, Pests and Weeds. Humulus lupulus. Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Humulus yunnanensis - Encyclopedia of Life
  4. ^ "Humulus lupulus". Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas at Austin. 2012.
  5. ^ Nelson, A.; Cockerell. "Humulus lupulus L. var. neomexicanus". USDA PLANTS Database. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  6. ^ "NCGR Corvallis - Humulus Germplasm : USDA ARS". Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  7. ^ "Plants Profile for Humulus lupulus pubescens (common hop)".
  8. ^ Cynthia Almaguer; Christina Schönberger; Martina Gastl; Elke K. Arendt & Thomas Becker (2014). "Humulus lupulus – a story that begs to be told. A review". Journal of the Institute of Brewing. 120 (4): n/a. doi:10.1002/jib.160.
  9. ^   Reynolds, Francis J., ed. (1921). "Hop" . Collier's New Encyclopedia. New York: P. F. Collier & Son Company.
  10. ^ Verzele, M.; De Keukeleire, D. (1991). Chemistry and analysis of hop and beer bitter acids. New York: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-444-88165-6.
  11. ^ Cynthia Almaguer; Christina Schönberger; Martina Gastl; Elke K. Arendt & Thomas Becker (2014). "Humulus lupulus – a story that begs to be told. A review". Journal of the Institute of Brewing. 120 (4): n/a. doi:10.1002/jib.160.
  12. ^ Jaskula; et al. (2008). "A kinetic study on the isomerization of hop α-acids". J. Agric. Food Chem. 56 (15): 6408–6415. doi:10.1021/jf8004965. PMID 18598038.
  13. ^ Cynthia Almaguer; Christina Schönberger; Martina Gastl; Elke K. Arendt & Thomas Becker (2014). "Humulus lupulus – a story that begs to be told. A review". Journal of the Institute of Brewing. 120 (4): n/a. doi:10.1002/jib.160.
  14. ^ Urban, Jan; Dahlberg, Clinton J; Carroll, Brian J; Kaminsky, Werner (2013-01-28). "Absolute Configuration of Beer's Bitter Compounds". Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. In English). 52 (5): 1553–1555. doi:10.1002/anie.201208450. ISSN 1433-7851. PMC 3563212. PMID 23239507.
  15. ^ Keukeleire, Denis De (2000). "Fundamentals of beer and hop chemistry" (PDF). Quimica Nova. 23 (1): 108–112. doi:10.1590/S0100-40422000000100019 – via SciELO.
  16. ^ Page, Jonathan E.; Nagel, Jana (2006). "Biosynthesis of terpenophenolic metabolites in hop and cannabis". Recent Advances in Phytochemistry. 40. pp. 179–210. doi:10.1016/S0079-9920(06)80042-0. ISBN 9780080451251.
  17. ^ Stevens JF, Page JE (2004). "Xanthohumol and related prenylflavonoids from hops and beer: to your good health!". Phytochemistry. 65 (10): 1317–1330. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2004.04.025. PMID 15231405.

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