Hedgerow Hops

Long and climbing, this perennial has leaves that are serrated like a stinging nettle and a green cone-shaped flower.

They are commonly found in hedgerows in the South and South East of England and very uncommon in my home area of North Wales. Despite the rarity in the area, it's almost a family tradition to harvest these flowers. The reason being many generations of my family would work in the hope fields of Kent collecting these flowers by hand to be dried and used by breweries.

I had never come across a hop plant until I was in Malvern for the Autumn show and in one of the tents, they had specimens on display and an exhibit showing the history of hop growing and harvesting. On the way back from the show we were driving very slowly through the country lanes due to heavy traffic and I screamed at Richard to stop - if spotted my first  'wild' hop flower (most likely an escapee) but who cares it was in a hedgerow and therefore fair game.

I managed pick a few flowers , not enough to do anything with but enough to get an idea of what the plant looked, felt and smelt like. I made a note in my fave foraging book, which is full of secret harvest places and vowed to come back next year!

When I am next back at the Malvern show I will try and spend a few hours searching the hedgerows for the flowers.

Hops is best known for its beer making and if I ever find enough for drying the flowers out and keeping them for a tradition hedgerow brew and I will toast to generations of hard-working men and woman who collected this year after year!


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