Wild grape: Vitis genus. I’ve always been told by Ralph White and other volunteer coordinators in the James River Park System that we should leave the big wild grape vines as they are — no cutting or removing. They are native plants, not invasive species. They may seem out of place or in some areas […]
Wild grape: Vitis genus. I’ve always been told by Ralph White and other volunteer coordinators in the James River Park System that we should leave the big wild grape vines as they are — no cutting or removing. They are native plants, not invasive species.
They may seem out of place or in some areas of the JRPS (like Pony Pasture) seem to be overgrown or intrusive on the river trails, but the white grape vines should not be disturbed.
Wild grapes are not often eaten by people, especially because they usually grow high in trees or are quickly eaten by animals, according to information from a Northern Virginia ecology website.
There are several species of wild grape in Virginia, most of which are very similar and difficult to tell apart. Fox Grape (Vitis labrusca), Summer Grape (Vitis aestivalis), and Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia) are probably the most common species.
Wild grape are woody vines which can climb over 30 feet tall. They have large, three-lobed leaves with teeth on the edges. They can be found on streambanks, pond edges, roadsides, and in open woods. In woods, the vine is probably very large and has grown up with the tree.
More facts about wild grape:
- Uses tendrils (like above-ground roots) to grab onto branches or bark of larger plants
- Bark is brownish-gray and very shreddy
- Flowers are green and small. They bloom from May to July
- Grows large purplish-black berries in clusters of up to twenty
- Fruits become ripe from August to October
- Fruit is very important for wildlife
- Each berry contains two to six seeds
- When animals eat the fruit, they help spread the vines by pooping out seeds in new places
- Many birds nest in Wild Grape tangles, including Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, and Northern Mockingbird
- Many birds also use bark from the vine to build nests
Also, some animals which eat wild grape fruit are Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Wood Duck, Common Crow, Great Crested Flycatcher, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Northern Bobwhite, Brown Thrasher, Tufted Titmouse, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwing, Purple Finch, Blue Jay, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Kingbird, Baltimore Oriole, White-throated Sparrow, Red Fox, Eastern Cottontail, Raccoon, Virginia Opossum, and Striped Skunk.
White-tailed Deer eat the leaves and stems.