Looduskalender in Vikerraadio: Hop shoots

Submitted by Looduskalender on Tue, 11.09.2018 - 21:11

The author, Kristel Vilbaste, also posts texts in Vikerraadio

Photo: Arne Ader

Translation into English by Maret

Estonian text posted 15.08.2018

Humal. Emastaim käbidega

Female plant with cones


This year, the climbing plants have a hard time in Estonia  -  both the hedge bindweed and the field bindweed try to twist and wiggle as close to the ground as possible. The only ones to hang themselves up in the hot air are the hops.

The hops twisting in my alder jumble have already developed lovely green cones.

Naturally we know hops predominantly for producing the bitter taste in beers, but they are also valuable medicinal herbs and it would be worth picking them in the alder groves by the river right now.

It is interesting that the hop stems wind themselves around any handy prop and that they usually grow clockwise. In order to observe this for yourself, you just have to create a hop garden by your home.

The very young shoots of hops can be used as food, like asparagus. But the most valuable parts of hops are their cones.

Hops belong to the notorious cannabis family, that has two branches in the northern hemisphere: hemp, that is the basis for hashish, and hop, that gives beer its right taste.

Hops in beer are probably responsible for decreasing men’s sexual desire, but in women they can act as an aphrodisiac and probably encourage oestrogen production.

Years ago I found some interesting information in my grandmother’s

notes: “In the old days, the leaves of hops were used for rubbing eyes to get rid of cataracts. You had to rub until the eye started bleeding.”

Hops have three- to seven-lobed leaves, that feel as rough as a cow’s tongue. Whenever I mention my grandmother’s writing in my seminars, the audience has a good laugh, thinking that the old folks were really strange  -  you’d also get rid of your eyesight along with the cataracts.

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