Hoptree,  Ptelea trifoliata
Rutaceae or Rue Family

Leaf Shrub or small tree.  Leaves with three leaflets, usually without teeth, not opposite each other.  Flowers white, clustered, with 4 petals, in early June.  Fruits papery, flat and circular.

Occasional in the park, usually along the road and bikeway or woodland edges.

The untoothed, three-parted leaves are the best clue to identification.  Hickories have similar leaves, except that there are usually 5 or more leaflets and they are toothed.  Bladdernut leaves look very similar, but are finely toothed and opposite each other. Roses, blackberries and raspberries may have three-part leaves, but the leaflets are toothed and the stems prickly.  Hoptree is often mistaken for poison ivy, but that plant is a climbing vine, or a low shrub, not a tree.  Poison ivy also has the end leaflet on a stalk, while hoptree leaflets have no or short stalks, and poison ivy leaves are often (but not always) toothed.  Finally, the flowers and fruits of poison ivy and hoptree are very different.  If in doubt, use caution.



Single fruit closeup