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Vitis riparia Michx.

Riverbank Grape

Modern name

Vitis vulpina L.


V. vulpina L., in part; V. odoratissima Donn

A vigorous, deciduous, scrambling bush or climber with glabrous young shoots. Leaves thin, 3 to 8 in. wide, usually somewhat longer, broadly heart-shaped, with a finely tapered point and coarse, triangular, unequal teeth, usually more or less three-lobed, shining green on both surfaces, downy on the veins beneath; stalk from half to quite as long as the blade. Flowers sweetly scented like mignonette, produced in panicles 3 to 8 in. long. Berries globose, 13 in. in diameter, black-purple, covered thickly with blue bloom.

Native of eastern and central North America; introduced in 1806. It is worth growing for its vigorous, leafy habit and sweet-scented flowers. It strikes very readily from cuttings and has in consequence been much used as a phylloxera-proof stock on which the wine-producing vines of France have been grafted.

The confused name V. vulpina L. was applied to this species in previous editions, as by other authorities, but probably belongs properly to V. cordifolia. The two are allied, and both have a tendril missing from every third joint, but the present species differs in its more commonly three-lobed leaves with larger more persistent stipules, and in its blue-bloomed fruits. The name V. vulpina has also been used for V. rotundifolia.

V. ‘Brant’. – A hybrid of ‘Clinton’, which was one of the earliest selections of V. riparia or possibly a hybrid between it and V. labrusca. The other parent, which contributed the pollen, was V. vinifera ‘Black St Peters’. It was raised by Charles Arnold of Paris, Canada, in the 1860s and was introduced to Britain in 1886. The rather small, black fruits frequently ripen with us, at least in southeastern England, and if not used to make wine the juice is excellent when drunk fresh. One grower at least has dried the fruits, which contain few or no seeds, and used them in chutney. But this vine is chiefly grown for its remarkable autumn colour: the leaves turn deep bronzy red in autumn, except for the veins, which remain green. The deeply lobed leaves are an inheritance from ‘Black St Peters’. Award of Merit 1970, when exhibited by W. J. Tjaden of Welling, Kent, whose note on ‘Brant’ will be found in Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 96 (1971), pp. 133-4.

V. palmata Vahl V. rubra Michx. Red Grape. – A native of the southern central USA, allied to V. riparia. It has glabrous, bright red young branches and leaf-stalks; leaves three- or five-lobed, the lobes long and slenderly pointed. Berries black, without bloom.



Other species in the genus