Wednesday, June 3, 2009
100 Species Challenge #55 Grapes
Specimen #54 Grapes
Vitis riparia (Frost Grape)
viti = vine
ripa = bank of stream
So, riverbank grape.
Photo by me in my backyard. The neighbors have a vine that grows everywhere. I think it takes up fences of three other yards plus their yard. It was planted less than five years ago. I have no idea if Vitis riparia is what they planted, but we have confirmed that we've seen Vitis riparia in the wild.
Recent posts involved the vines poison ivy and Virginia creeper. I remembered one other vine that we run across while caching -- grapes. Near ... a rock in a hard place GCPVD2, now permanently archived, you'll find a lot of grape vines. The greenbelt near my house also has a lot of grape vines. Their leaves look nicely amber in the fall. We also encountered frost and fox grapes last summer during our stay in Wisconsin. I've never really tried to identify grapes until my son's Boy Scout troop asked me to lead a required nature hike and identify plants.
I found a nice book on Iowa Plants through ISU Extension and Iowa Association of Naturalists here. From that book:
Wild grape (Vitis riparia) is a very common vine of Iowa woodlands. Grape vines sometimes climb to great heights, making use of many tendrils. The leaves grow alternately on the stem, are toothed, and have several shallow lobes. Wild grapes are edible for both people and wildlife. The fruits are small, dark, and sweet. Nearly 100 different species of songbirds and many other birds and mammals are known to feed on grapes.
I'm finding a lot of internet sources that claim wild grape jelly is fantastic. Hm. I may have to try that. I do know that my kids kept daring me to eat the grapes near ...a rock in a hard place, and that my grandpa laughed when I told him this. He says that they would be very sour. I'm more curious than afraid now, so I may try a taste this year if I remember.