Wild grape vine (Vitis species)

Bunch of grapesThe wild grapevine climbs with the aid of “tendrils” on stems that are hairy when young but grow into hairless vines. Its bark is twining.  The tendrils that are used for support grow opposite the leaves.  Most grapevines produce deeply lobed leaves, alternately arranged, broad and large, green in color, typically with five lobes, similar to the cultivated grape. Although typically lobed, the leaves can grow rounded to heart-shaped.  They are shallowly toothed on the edges often with a lower surface covered with reddish hairs (that are replaced with gray hairs as the plant matures).

Grapes growing in the wildThe flowers are unique in that the petals remain joined at the tip into one unite but separated at the base. They grow in clusters, opposite the leaves along the shoots, and are typically five petaled.  Wild grapes grow in pyramidal, hanging bunches, typically four or less per flower, and are oval in shape, black-blue to reddish amber, or white when ripe, and contain egg shaped seeds.

Where to Find: Purple grapes hanging from the vineWild grapes are distributed worldwide. Some kinds are found in deserts, others in temperate forests, and others in tropical areas. Most prefer sandy soils in exposed areas with good sun exposure and adequate soil moisture.  Wild grapes are commonly found throughout the eastern United States as well as in the southwestern desert areas. Most kinds are rampant climbers over other vegetation.

The best place to look for wild grapes is on the edges of forested areas. Wild grapes are also found in Mexico. In the Old World, wild grapes are found from the Mediterranean region eastward through Asia, the East Indies, and to Australia. Africa also has several kinds of wild grapes.

Edible Parts: Grapes growing in the wildThe ripe grape is the portion eaten. Grapes are rich in natural sugars and, for this reason, are much sought after as a source of energy-giving wild food. None are poisonous.

Other Uses: You can obtain water from severed grapevine stems. Cut off the vine at the bottom and place the cut end in a container. Make a slant-wise cut into the vine about 1.8 meters (6 feet) up on the hanging part. This cut will allow water to flow from the bottom end. As water diminishes in volume, make additional cuts farther down the vine.

Note: To avoid poisoning, do not eat grapelike fruits with only a single seed (moonseed).

Bunches of grapes hanging from a grapevine

Close up of Grape leaf showing lobed structure with serrated edges

Baby grapes right after the flower

Grapes and grape flowers

Grape flowers are unique

Color drawing of Grape plant illustrating the plant's components including stem, vine, leaves, fruit, and cross sections of seeds and fruit