Humulus lupulus

Common hop, photo: Arne Ader

The common hop is a perennial dioecious liana with a twisted stem in the Cannabaceae family. In the past, it was mainly used for brewing beer. The flavour, foaming, smell, colour, and preservation depends on the hop. Hop has been used to treat central nervous system disorders, anxiety, difficulties sleeping, sleep disorders, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Thanks to its strong sedative effect, it is also found in many over-the-counter sleep medications. Young hop sprouts can be eaten; inflorescences can be used for taste and drugs; and the stems of hops can be used for fibre. Hop is a perennial dioecious liana with a stem that is 3–6 m long and up to 1 cm in thickness. The stem is twisted and covered in two-tip hooking hairs. The leaves are large with a long leaf stalk and are placed opposite each other. The upper leaves are round or egg-shaped, and the lower ones have 3 or 5 blunt-edged lobes, with thick saw-like or tooth-like edges. The flowers are greenish-white or yellowish-green. The female flowers are tightly arranged in inflorescences which look like cones. These inflorescences are called ‘non-fertilised’ female flowers or hop cones. As the sprout can grow up to 3 metres in a month’s time, it is one of the fastest-growing plants in Estonia (about 10 cm vertically per day).