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Common Name: Riverbank Grape
Vitis riparia is a Deciduous Climber up to 15.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
Eastern and Central N. America. Locally naturalized in Europe[
Riverbanks, bottomlands, rich thickets and woodland margins[
Prefers a deep rich moist well-drained moderately fertile loam[
]. Grows best in a calcareous soil[
]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though a warm sunny position is required for the fruit to ripen[
The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts.
Plants climb by means of tendrils[
]. They grow particularly well into elm trees[
Any pruning should be carried out in winter when the plants are dormant otherwise they bleed profusely[
Occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit in N. America[
], there are some named varieties[
]. 'Brandt' is of uncertain parentage, probably involving this species, it usually ripens its fruit in S.E. England[
Resistant to Phylloxera disease, a disease that almost destroyed the European grape crops. This species can be used as a rootstock in areas where the disease is prevalent and can also be used in breeding programmes with V. vinifera in order to impart resistance to that species[
The flowers are powerfully scented of mignonette[
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or dried for later use[
]. Juicy and somewhat acid[
]. The taste is best after a frost[
]. The fruit is about 6 - 12mm in diameter[
] and is carried in fairly large bunches[
Leaves - cooked[
]. Young leaves are wrapped around other foods and then baked, they impart a pleasant flavour.
Young tendrils - raw or cooked[
Sap - raw[
]. A sweet flavour, it is used as a drink[
]. The sap can be harvested in the spring and early summer, though it should not be taken in quantity or it will weaken the plant[
A yellow dye is obtained from the fresh or dried leaves[
The plant is used as a rootstock for the common grape, V. vinifera, especially in areas where phylloxera disease is prevalent[
Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[
]. Six weeks cold stratification improves the germination rate, and so stored seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is obtained. Germination should take place in the first spring, but sometimes takes another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in early summer.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, December/January in a frame. These cuttings can be of wood 15 - 30cm long or they can be of short sections of the stem about 5cm long with just one bud at the top of the section. In this case a thin, narrow strip of the bark about 3cm long is removed from the bottom half of the side of the stem. This will encourage callusing and the formation of roots. Due to the size of these cuttings they need to be kept in a more protected environment than the longer cuttings.