Wild Grapes
WIld Grapes
Terry Bonace
Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group
Wild grapes Wild Grapes in Flower

Wild grapes are easy to grow in many soil types and sunlight situations. Their leaves have attractive shapes that take on a golden yellow color in fall. If grown in sun, purple clusters of fruit, preceded by tiny bunches of fragrant white flowers, can appear. However, if fruit is desired, then a sunny location will be needed. Also, since wild grapes usually have male and female plants, both sexes of plants will be needed to produce fruit.

The most common wild grape available commercially is the riverbank grape (Vitis riparia). But you can also find summer grape (V. aestivalis) and fox grape (V. labrusca). A cross between summer and fox grape called “Norton” or “Cynthiana" was developed in the 1830s for wine production in the eastern United States and is also available, but would be of most interest to those desiring fruit production. Norton or Cynthiana is also considered “hermaphroditic” and thus does not require male and female plants to produce fruit.

Wild grape leaf shape varies with the species and individual plants but most grape leaves are 2 to 9 inches long and heart shaped, some strongly lobed and some with only toothed edges. Fox grape can have the most deeply lobed leaves of the three mentioned here.

Wild Grapes
Wild Grapes

Wild grapes are almost too easy to grow as they can reach heights of over 100 feet at maturity and grow many yards in length each summer. Wild grapes are sometimes considered invasive because of their speedy growth and climbing ability. If grape vines are not cut back yearly, they will develop into a woody vine. Over time, some venerable old wild grape vines have achieved diameter of up to 6 inches.

If you have questions about wild grapes or other native or non-native plants, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Bonace (tbonace@gmail.com), Candice Smith (cmsmith2@umail.iu.edu), or Bill Schaudt (blschaudt2@gmail.com) for assistance. Also please explore our website, www.bserg.org, for further information on invasive plants and native replacements.

Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group,
P.O. Box 667, Beverly Shores, IN 46301