Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) is native to the American South.
The vines climb and cling with coiled tendrils that wrap tightly around anything they reach. Unlike other grapes, muscadine tendrils are unbranched, the bark is tight and non-shredding, and shoots are warty. Old muscadine grape vines like the ones growing along the Hammock Trail can be six inches or more in diameter and reach into tree tops more than 98 feet.
Leaves are alternate, simple, green, glossy, heart-shaped, and slightly lobed with coarse serrations on the margins. Each leaf tip tapers gradually to a sharp point.
Muscadine grape plants are dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants. The blooming season is March to April. Both wind and insects are important pollinators of the female flowers.
The fruits (grapes) have many uses. Native Americans used the grapes to make blue dye. Since the 16th century, the plant has been extensively cultivated for food. Grapes are eaten as fresh fruit and made into raisins, wine, juice, and jelly. Today, muscadine grapes are being researched for their potential health benefits for blood, colon, and prostrate cancers since they are rich sources of polyphenols and other nutrients.
In the hammock, Vitis rotundifolia improve wildlife habitat by providing many animals with cover and food.
© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer).
Please report errors to Susan Snyder @ firstname.lastname@example.org