Vitis labrusca - fox grape

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summer 2010 fruiting

These are native labrusca crossed with other species to create sweeter, often seedless forms. "Concord" is a labrusca hybrid. Dry year, very good fruiting on our labrusca hybrids. In recent wet summers little or no yields but about 60 delicious bunches off our 2 vines this year.

Eric Toensmeier - writer, trainer, plant geek -,

delicious native wild grape

I confess I lived in Massachusetts for almost twenty years before I stumbled across this delight. I had sampled plenty of the small, sour wild species we have so many of and assumed that all wild grapes here were terrible except for juice. Then a few years ago my wife Marikler insisted that we try some on a walk, and my mind was blown. Labrusca grapes are large, with juicy flesh and small pits. Flavor like grape jelly. Quite a bit like muscadines, which unfortunately won't grow here.

Driving around I discovered that I had been driving past this fantastic wild food for decades. How embarassing! Also perhaps shows that there is always something new to discover even in your own region. 

This grape can be distinguised because the underside of the leaves is woolly and has a bit of a rust color to it. A famous cultivated example is the "Concord" grape, which may not in fact be pure V. labrusca. Many other hybrids are out there, including tasty seedless forms like "Glenora" and "Interlaken" which taste much like table grapes from California (which won't grow here due to disease pressure).

This is a great candidate for fruit exploration. Just go for a hike in fall and find which you like best in your area, and flag them with orange tape. Come back in winter to take cuttings - grapes are ridiculously easy to grow from cuttings. Then plant some out and let them do their thing, especially climbing trees in an out-of-the-way corner. Even plant them in the wild along your favorite hiking trail: no harm, they're native!


Eric Toensmeier - writer, trainer, plant geek -,

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