Native Plant of the Week: Wafer Ash ~ Ptelea trifoliata

Wafer Ash (Hop Tree) ~ Ptelea trifoliata

Wafer Ash is a great native woody species that can be utilized as a large shrub or small tree specimen in the home landscape. Most often multi-stemmed, it can reach heights of around 20 feet in northern landscapes.

The flowers are tiny, light yellow to green in color and have either 4 or 5 petals. They are arranged in clusters that are about 2 inches wide.

Wafer Ash is relatively slow growing, especially in drier locations. Its native habitat includes thinner, dry soils on rock, or upland sites near riparian areas. It is tolerant of moist locations too so is a very adaptable native shrub to use in the home landscape.

In Minnesota, flowers emerge in early June. The interesting flat seed pods (samaras) develop and hang downwards in the clusters. They turn from light green to brown as they mature.

Wafer Ashes have 'leaves of three'. Young seedlings are often mistaken for poison ivy. The leaves are glossy and light green in color and very attractive.

Wafer Ash is native to southern and eastern North America. See map below for range.
Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.