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Riverbank Grape
Vitis riparia

Vitis riparia Michx, also commonly known as River Bank Grape or Frost Grape, is a native American climbing or trailing vine, widely distributed from Quebec to Texas, and Montana to New England. It is long-lived and capable of reaching into the upper canopy of the tallest trees. It produces dark fruit that are appealing to both birds and people, and has been used extensively in commercial viticulture as grafted rootstock and in hybrid grape breeding programs.

 

Mature vines have loose, fissured bark, and may attain several inches in diameter. Leaves are alternate, often with opposite tendrils or inflorescences, coarsely toothed, 5–25 cm (2–10in) long and 5–20 cm (2–8in) broad, sometimes with sparse hairs on the underside of veins.

The inflorescence is paniculate 4–15 cm (1.5–6 in) long and loose, and the flowers are small, fragrant, dioecious, and white or greenish in color. V. riparia blooms in May or June and produces a small 6–15 mm blue-black berry (grape) with a bloom, seeded, juicy, edible, vinous in flavor, lacking the "foxy" characteristics of Vitis labrusca, but usually quite sour and herbaceous. V. riparia has a wide range and may deviate considerably in detail from the above general description. White berries, perfect flowers, large clusters, large berries, and sweet fruit are among the known variations. However, some observers consider such variations as evidence of natural hybridization with other species of grapes.

Habitat:River banks, fencerows, roadsides, thickets, floodplain forests.
Growth Habit:Deciduous vine, climbing or trailing to 5 m long or more.
Bloom Time:Late spring.
Longevity:Long-lived.
Presence in US:AL AR CO CT DC GA IA IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MS MT NC ND NE NH NJ NM NY OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX VA VT WA WI WV WY
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This project was supported in part by NSF Grant IIS-03-25867 (ITR: An Electronic Field Guide: Plant Exploration and Discovery in the 21st Century) and by the Washington Biologists' Field Club.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation (NSF).