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Wafer Ash, Hop Tree, Common Hop-tree, Threeleaf Hop-tree, Shrubby-trefoil, Swamp Dogwood, Skunk-bush, Potato-chip Tree, Quinine-tree, Cola de Zorillo, Wingseed, Ague-bark, Prairie Grub, Pickaway Anise
Ptelea trifoliata


Wafer ash is found throughout Texas except in the extreme southern part. It ranges over a wide area, east through Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, New York and Quebec; north into Oklahoma and through the midwest; and west into Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California. It thrives in a wide range of soil types and exposures, from full sun to heavy shade, where it makes a good understory plant. Wafer ash is usually a rounded shrub, but sometimes becomes a small tree to 18 feet. It is also variable as to the size and shape of its trifoliate leaflets, and the leaves may be alternate or opposite, dark green and lustrous and in some varieties pubescent or wooly. Although most parts of the plant - leaves, seeds and twigs - have a disagreeable, pungent odor, the flowers, which are mostly dioecious, are somewhat fragrant. Its hard, heavy wood is close-grained with a pale epidermis and whitish bark. The wafer-like samaras (seeds) ripen in August and September, and persist on drooping clusters through the winter. Swallowtail butterfly larvae feast on its leaves. There are a number of medicinal uses for the bark of the root, and the fruit was once used as a substitute for hops in beer brewing. Wafer ash was introduced into cultivation in 1784 and today there are many forms and varieties.

Plant Habit or Use: medium shrub
large shrub

Exposure: sun
partial sun

Flower Color: green - white

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: samaras

Height: 5 to 20 feet

Width: 5 to 18 feet

Plant Character: deciduous

Heat Tolerance: high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: adaptable

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Additional Comments:

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