Wild Grapes (Vitis spp.)

Grapes

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There are many species of wild grapes in the eastern US. 


Wild grapes can be smaller than commercial grapes, but some are large and luscious! 


The larger ones are usually better tasting than the tiny ones (but of course, this is a matter of opinion!)

Climbing vines

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Grapes are climbing vines. 


The fruit is 1/8 to 1 inch across.

Common grapes

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This is the very common Riverbank Grape. 


The fruit is small. 


Sometimes called Frost Grapes, they really do taste better after a frost.

Fox gapes

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An especially sweet and delicious summertime treat is the fox grape, or Vitis labrusca.


This grape gave rise to other popular grape cultivars, including Concord grapes.


Fox grape leaves are fuzzy and brownish underneath.

The grapes are large and juicy. 

Eat the leaves

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Grape leaves can be eaten, too. 

Ever hear of stuffed grape leaves?  Try them… there are a million recipes online.


Young grape leaves are a spring treat. Not bad eaten raw as a trail nibble.


Or you can boil the young leaves as a green veggie.


Look for new tender, light green leaves found near the tip of the vine. They taste better.

Identification

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OK… positive ID!


To identify grapes, look for:


  • Shreddy bark
  • Tendrils 
  • Teeth along the leaf edges

A word of caution

Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

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Moonseed is a toxic look-alike plant you should be aware of.


The fruit can look like grapes, but...


  • The moonseed plant lacks tendrils
  • The leaves do not have the serrated edges that grape leaves have
  • Moonseed fruit has a single crescent-shaped seed, while grapes have rounded seeds.