varieties: var. lupus (European) and var. neomexicanus (native) -- (although poorly studied)
Common Name: Hops
Hops are most commonly known for their bitter/floral/citrusy contributions to the flavour of beer, notably the iconic Westcoast IPA. The reason an Imperial Pale Ale from the Westcoast of North America should taste hoppy is because our wilds, rogues, and roadsides are covered in renegade hops. Here in BC, the district of Squamish was founded by its hop industry at Alice Lake, and since then, the farm escapees have travelled around the province, a boon for wild harvesters and Indigenous Gatherers seeking a lovely spring shoot or floral medicine.
Key Features: Smells like beer, especially the flowers! The mature leaves are shaped like the baby of a maple leaf and a club while younger leaves or leaves of different varieties may simply be one toothed lobe. The entirety of the plant is covered in brisk hairs to help it climb even the smoothest of surfaces. Shoots are in season during the spring and flowers in hot summer.
Edible/Medicinal Parts: Shoots can be steamed, blanched, stir-fried, and pickled like asparagus. As the plant matures its aerial parts become tough and spiky. The flowers are heavily scented and contain cannabinoids and phytoestrogens which are helpful in relaxation and menopause, respectively. It's best to collect flowers to flavour beer while they have lots of pollen and before they have developed seeds because the seeds get into filtration equipment. I have made teas from the flowers as well as potpourri, and pillows for their soothing effect (especially when I'm on the rag).