Every now and then I remember that I have a particular plant or tree to research and the California hoptree is one such subject (Ptelea crenulata). I hike past it with great regularity and note its stages of development through the cycle of the seasons. But, even with its interesting circular fruits, I often fail to take a photo and look up more information on this plant.
In researching the hoptree, I found that it is a member of the citrus family (Rutaceae) which is distinguished by its aromatic gland-dotted leaves. The hoptree that we have alongside our canyon trail is more like a shrub and my field guide says it can be from 6 ft to 16 feet in height. I would estimate that our tree is about 6-8 feet tall and almost completely surrounded by blackberry vines which makes it hard to determine where the hoptree ends and the vines begin.
The California hoptree became the topic of my Once a Month Nature Journal Project for January. I used one current photo and one from my archives showing the features of my winter observations. I pulled out my field guides and looked online for information to include on my page. Creating a simple journal page pulls all the information together both on the page and in my mind. Next time I hike past this tree I will slow down to take note of its identifying features and anticipate its blossoms come springtime.