Riverbank Grape

Ojibway: Zhawimin (or Zhoomin or Jo’minaga’wunj)
Latin: Vitis riparia Michx.

Riverbank-Grape

Common Names
  • River Grape
  • Riverside Vine
  • Frost Grapes
  • Grapevine
Description

Woody vines, trailing or climbing by means of tendrils; stems of mature plants are thick in diameter; young branches are green to dull reddish brown.

Flowers

Inconspicuous, greenish, fragrant; calyces short; five petals, attached together at tips; separate from one another at bases.

Leaves

Alternate, simple, thin, heart-to egg-shaped, 7-15 cm (3-6 in.) long, about as wide, some deeply three to seven lobed, lobes with tapering pointed tips, shiny green above, green with pubescence along veins below; margins coarsely toothed.

Fruit

The fruit is about 6-12 mm (0.2-0.4 in.) in diameter and is carried in fairly large bunches.

Height

Up to 15 m (50 ft.) long.

Habitat

Moist to mesic black soil prairies, woodland edges and openings, sandy woodland edges and openings, savannahs, sand dunes, thickets, areas along rivers, lakes, and ditches, powerline clearances, fence rows and abandoned fields, and areas along roadsides and railroads.

Range

Eastern and Central North America.

Discussion

This plant can be eaten raw or dried for later use. The fruit is juicy and somewhat acidic. The taste is best after a frost. Leaves can be cooked. Young leaves can be wrapped around other foods and then baked, imparting a pleasant flavour. Young tendrils can be eaten raw or cooked. The sap can be used as a drink and harvested throughout the spring and early summer, through it quantity as this will weaken the plant. Also, a yellow dye can be obtained from the fresh or dried leaves.