Muscadine grape

Vitis rotundifolia
Family: Vitaceae

Natural History
The nearly round leaves of muscadine grape
Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org

Muscadine grape is also known as wild grape, scuppernong, and southern fox grape, and is valued for its edible, tasty fruit. Muscadine grape grows from Texas to south Florida, north to Delaware, and west to Missouri.

The grapes are a favorite food source for white-tailed deer. Other wildlife also eat the fruit, including black bear, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, raccoon, skunk, squirrel, and opossum. Songbirds such as cardinals, mockingbirds, robins, and cedar waxwings consume the fruit and are essential to the dispersal of muscadine grape seeds.

Humans also enjoy the unique fruity flavor of the grapes and make jellies, jams, juices, and wines from the fruit. Commercial production is small, but they are widely grown for home use and local markets in southeastern states. Native Americans in Florida also made a blue dye from the grapes.


 

Identifying Characteristics

Habitat: Muscadine grape grows in pine flatwoods, dry hammocks, and coastal sites.
Size/Form: Muscadine grape is a high climbing, woody vine that grows up to 60' to 100 long in the wild. It has long-reaching, alternately arranged branches.
Stem: In contrast to most other grapes, muscadine grape has a tight, non-shedding bark, warty shoots, and unbranched tendrils.
Leaves: Leaves are simple, deciduous, and about 4" wide and 4" long. The arrangement is typical of the grape family: in each pair at a node, one leaf has been modified into a tendril. The rounded leaves have coarsely serrate edges. Leaves are smooth, dark green above and green tinged yellow, somewhat hairy below.
Fruit: The fruit is a berry/grape that is borne singly or in small clusters, usually no more than 12 berries in a cluster. Berries are round and up to 1" or more in diameter. The black purple or bronze berries have tan spots when ripe, a thick, tough skin, and contain up to 5 hard, oblong seeds. Berries ripen from July through September.

 

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