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2 Plants You Probably Didn’t Know Were Related

The Hops Family Tree

(Making the Cannabis connection)

   Did you know that Hops and Marijuana are close cousins?  That they share a lot of the same properties?   In this article, I will show you the similarities of the two plants, where they deviate from each other, and why they can even share the same aroma. So let’s not waste any time and jump right in.

 

Taxonomy

 

   I want to open this up with a glossary word:  

 

Taxonomy (noun)

 The science of naming, describing, and classifying organisms includes all plants, animals, and microorganisms of the world.

 

   You remember this from school, right?  I believe it was the 6th grade when I learned that there are seven foremost taxonomic ranks: kingdom, phylum (or division), class, order, family, genus, species.  We will use this old-school lesson to see where hops and weed connect.  We will skip the first three and jump right to order, and work our way down from there.

 

Order: Rosales

 

   Our lesson starts with the Order Rosales.  They are a wide variety of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs that all produce some type of flower.  We’ll get into “type of flower” in a moment.  Many of the plants of this Order grow in temperate regions of East Asia, Europe, and North America. Flowers in the Rosales order are considered bisexual, and they usually have four or five petals that are flat or cup-shaped.  Of course, both Marijuana and hops have these qualities, but now we will get a bit more specific about each.

 

Family: Cannabaceae 

 

Here’s where things start to get interesting.  Hops and Herb are climbing plants with petalless flowers.  

 

   Looking at our reference photos, you will see the flowers of a Marijuana plant, a Hop plant, and a Hemp plant.  (Yes, there is a difference between Hemp and Weed.  That’s coming up)  These flowers are not like the soft petals of a rose or tulip.  They are petalless flowers that have each plant’s respective reproductive parts.  In nearly every case, both the cannabis and hops plants are dioecious, meaning they have male and female plants.

 

   

   

 

Terpenes

   The flowers of both plants produce aroma compounds called terpenes.  Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants.  They create the aromas and flavors that both of these plants are famous for producing.  There are hundreds of types of terpenes, but we are mainly interested in three of them found in our plants: myrcene, beta-pinene, and humulene.  Here is why we are so interested in them;

 

Myrcene is said to:

  • Improve sleep.

  • Reduce pain.

  • Promote relaxation.

  • Enhance mood.

  • Relieve anxiety.

  • Relieve Stress.

  • Strengthen the immune system.

 

Beta-pinene is said to possess: 

  • Analgesic - Pain relief

  • Antibacterial - Slows and combats bacterial growth

  • Anti-inflammatory - Reduces systematic inflammation in the body

  • Anti-Proliferative - Inhibits cancer cell growth

  • Antioxidant - Prevents oxidation damage to molecules and cells in the human body.

  • Neurodegenerative - Promotes the health of neurological activity and healthy brain function.

  • Bronchodilator - Increases airflow to the lungs.

 

Humulene’s notable health benefits include:

  • Antibacterial

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antitumor effects. (inhibits the growth of tumors)

 

   There is continuing research about terpenes and how they may benefit our lives. But, for now, I just like how they make my beer taste.  

 

   So far, we have been looking at what connects Hops and Weed and a few of their family traits, but here is where they begin to separate.  

 

Genus:  Humulus and Cannabis

 

   The next step down our taxonomy chart is the genus of these two family members.  Genus Humulus is hops and  Genus Cannabis is where Mary Jane is listed along with her sister hemp, but again, we’ll get to that in a moment.

 

   What changes in the genus classification of these two plants are the chemicals produced mainly in our cannabis classification.  While they both possess the same terpenes, weed has something else in it: terpenoids.

 

   Here we go!  Terpenoids are just another terpene found in both plants, but hops lack an enzyme in them that converts their terpenoids into tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a. THC.  So there is our separation, the big difference between the two.  I find it amazing how closely related they are and all the benefits found in both plants, but the THC is the winning touchdown for weed… at least in many people’s opinions.

 

Something to Ponder

 

   I mentioned that hops lack the enzyme that could convert terpenoid, or even more accurately the cannabigerol acid present in the hop, into THC. Interestingly enough, I read that the enzyme could be inserted into the hops using genetic engineering.  That report was back in 2019.  Could you imagine using an altered hop that now had a strong THC profile and making beer out of it?  Wouldn’t that be wild?  I mean for all of those medical benefits, of course.

 

Species:

 

   In the category of species, the next step down, we won’t find much change happening with the hops.  As a matter of fact, the species classification under hops is Humulus lupulus or the common hop.  Well, that was exciting.  But for Cannabis, there is a significant change.  Cannabis separates into Marijuana and Hemp.  

 

   According to Healthline.com, “hemp and marijuana plants are both the same species. Legally, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less THC, while marijuana is a cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent THC. Therefore, CBD can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana plants.”

 

   There you have it—the big difference between hemp and pot.  Hopefully, I have helped resolve a few arguments for some of you.  Like I’m an expert or something.  

 

 

Time to Hear From You

 

   I want to hear what you have to say.  

  •   Which family member do you prefer?

  • Should more funding for THC and CBD be given to researchers?

  • Would you like to see an all-new THC Hop?

 

Leave me a comment below.

   Please take a moment to visit my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channel.  Subscribe, like, share, follow, and all that brouhaha. 

   Thank you for your support.

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Taxonomy
Order
Family: Cannabaceae
Terpens
Genus
Species
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blurb  /blərb/

noun

  1. a short description of a book, movie, or other product written for promotional purposes 

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