Arfeuillea arborescens Pierre ex Radlk.

Etymology Genus Name after the friend (Arfeuille) of the botanist, Pierre, who described the species.
Species Tree-like
Family Sapindaceae
Synonyms Koelreuteria arborescens Pierre
Common Names Hop Tree
Status Exotic: Cultivated Only
Form Tree
Native Distribution Thailand and Laos


The foliage of the Hop Tree is very distinctive. The compound leaves are spirally arranged around the length of each straggy branch, giving them a fox-tailed, bushy feel.

Interesting Facts:

A monotypic species, this species seems to be commonly planted within residential areas. The leaf is paripinnately compounded, with about 3 to 4 pairs subopposite leaflets. One thing to note for the leaflets is that their normally smooth margins can be slightly jagged at times.

The flowers and fruits are rather inconspicuous as the former are very small, while the latter look (and feel) like dried leaves when they are ripe. From afar, the petals of the flowers might look reddish, but those are actually the sepals (Wee, 2003). The petals themselves are actually very small and white.

Habit of the Hop Tree showing its bushy foliage.

Tiny flowers and young fruits sticking from the terminal of the branch.

Memorise this foliage form, and it will be easy to identify the tree.

Whorled arrangement of the leaf, and the slight asymmetry of the leaflets.

Three winged fruit (left) and the interior, showing the seeds (right)


Wee YC. (2003) Tropical Trees and Shrubs: A Selection for Urban Planting. Sun Tree Publishing, USA. 392 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2012-10-31 / Modified: 2015-01-11