Riverbank Grape, Vitis riparia

Riverbank Grape

Vitis riparia

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Green, White, Yellow, Brown
Fragrance: No
Height: 36-72 feet
Spacing: 40 feet


Description

Riverbank Grape, Vitis riparia, is the most common wild grape in Wisconsin. Leaves are 4 to 8 inches long and nearly as wide, mostly broadly heart-shaped in outline, shallowly to deeply lobed with (usually) 3 major lobes and a broad gap between the 2 basal lobes. Edges are hairy and sharply toothed.

Young leaves are often yellowish, shiny, and covered in cobwebby hairs that disappear as they mature, the upper surface becoming hairless and green, the lower somewhat paler in color and hairy along major veins. Leaf stalks are up to 3 inches long, often reddish, and variously hairy or smooth.

New branches are yellowish-green to reddish and smooth except for a few cobwebby hairs at the nodes, and sometimes have a waxy bloom. Forked tendrils develop opposite the leaves on first year branches and become woody with age. Older bark is brown and shredding, peeling in long strips. A mature plant may have a trunk as much as 8 inches in diameter at breast height though 2 or 3 inches is more common.

The flower clusters become dangling as fruit develops. Fruit is a round berry ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, ripens from green to blue-black, and is covered in a white bloom. Inside a berry is one to 6 slightly flattened, egg-shaped seeds. Berries are often sour until after a frost, then turn more sweet-tart.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Some consider Riverbank Grape a weedy pest, sometimes creating dense masses and smothering other plants and even small trees.
  The fruit of Moonseed (Menispermum canadense) is very similar, and is poisonous, but its leaves are not toothed and the fruit has a single crescent-shaped seed inside, where Riverbank Grape has multiple egg-shaped seeds.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries