Vitis (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Vitis (Sturtevant, 1919)

Vitis acetosa P. Muell.


Australia. The stems are herbaceous rather than shrubby, erect. The whole plant is pervaded with acidity and proves valuable in cases of scurvy. The berries are edible.

Vitis acida Chapm.

South America and West Indies. The whole plant has an acid taste.

Vitis adnata Wall.

Asia and Australian tropics. The acid leaves are eaten.

Vitis aestivalis Michx.


Eastern America. The berries are pleasant and the flowers fragrant. This grape is referred to by Wood in his New England's Prospects as the "smaller kinde of grape which groweth in the Islands, which is sooner ripe and more delectable." As it occurs wild, it presents many varieties in its fruit and has produced, according to William Saunders, the cultivated forms known as Lenoir, Herbemont, Devereaux, Alvey, Cynthiana and Norton's Virginia; according to Ravenel, Clinton and Delaware. This species was introduced into England in 1656.

Vitis africana Spreng.

Tropical Africa. The berries are black and eatable.

Vitis antarctica Benth.

East Australia. This species is an evergreen, bearing small and edible berries.

Vitis arborea Linn.

Orient and North America. The fruit is said to become agreeable when perfectly matured, but Nuttall says, to his taste, it is always nauseous.

Vitis arizonica Engelm.


Arizona and Utah. The fruit is small, borne in small clusters and is said to be quite luscious.

Vitis auriculata Wall.

Himalayan region, Burma and Java. The berries are large and juicy.

Vitis berlanderi Planch.

Texas and northern Mexico. This vine bears a very large cluster of rich, though remarkably small, fruit. The quality is fine for wine.

Vitis bicolor Le Conte.


New Hampshire to North Carolina and westward. The berries are small and generally sweet and agreeable.

Vitis caesia Sabine.

Tropical Africa. The berries are round and black, with an austere, acid taste not very agreeable to Europeans; the grapes are eaten chiefly by the negroes, who are very fond of them.

Vitis californica Benth.

Southwestern United States. The quantity of the fruit that an Indian will consume at one time is scarcely credible. The ancient Pueblo Indians were in the habit of cultivating this grape as is evident from the peculiar distribution of the plant near reined settlements. In Arizona, near Fort Whipple, they are found arranged in rows and the vines are very old. The berry is small and round and much resembles the ordinary frost grape of New England but it is larger, more juicy and richer in flavor.

Vitis candicans Engelm.

Southwestern United States. The berries are large, black or dark purple; skin thin, beneath which is a cuticle containing a red and very acid juice. The true pulp is edible. This species bears fruit unfit for eating owing to the biting pungency of its skin and the tough pulp but may have promise as a wine grape.

Vitis capensis Burm.

South Africa. The berry is said to be excellent but with a different flavor from our grapes. It is brought to the table at the Cape of Good Hope.

Vitis caribaea DC.


West Indies and moist thickets in Florida and along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico as far as southern Texas. This grape was found in Arkansas by Nuttall. Its grapes are small, sour and generally unpalatable, yet sometimes it has fruit agreeably acid. Its vines are said to be so full of sap as to be used in the West Indies to allay thirst. Sloane says, in Jamaica, it is red or deep purple and the size of a currant and agreeably acid, as well as astringent. Loudon says it was introduced into England in 1800.

Vitis cordifolia Michx.


Eastern United States. The fruit hangs in short clusters, is dark purple, almost black when ripe, with a dark blue bloom, about the size of a large pea. It is very acid, says Emerson, but pleasant, with a rich, spicy taste and without any acerbity remaining after eating. Natural varieties of this grape have been transferred to gardens in Massachusetts and the berries of these plants are described as of "a juicy, agreeable, wine taste," "oval, sweet and spicy," "round and sweet," "sweet and agreeable." This species has been strongly recommended for winemaking. Some of the varieties have red, others black fruits.

Vitis elongata Wall.

East Indies. The berries are large and juicy.

Vitis geniculata Miq.

Java. The fruit is eaten.

Vitis heterophylla Thunb.

China and Japan. The leaves are used for food.

Vitis hypoglauca F. Muell.

East Australia. This species is an evergreen climber of enormous length. The black berries attain the size of small cherries.

Vitis imperialis Miq.

Sumatra and Borneo. Its berries are large and juicy.

Vitis indica Linn.

East Indies and India. The small berries are edible.

Vitis labrusca Linn.


Eastern United States. This is probably the grape seen by the Northmen at Vinland, when the two Scotch slaves sent out to explore brought back a bunch of grapes in 1006. This grape was mentioned by Edward Winslow in Massachusetts, 1621, as "white and red and very sweet and strong also." Master Graves says "vines doe grow here plentifully laden with the biggest grapes that ever I saw; some I have seen four inches about." The fox grape is often mentioned by the colonists. In 1769, the French settlers on the Illinois River made upwards of one hundred hogsheads of strong wine from the wild grape. The fruit varies much in size, color and taste, and some of the natural varieties are very fair fruit and may be found even now around many New England homesteads, although they all have more or less of the strong, musky flavor, which in some varieties is disagreeably intense. Emerson says he has gathered grapes in the woods decidedly superior to the Isabella.

This species has given origin to many cultivated varieties, such as Isabella, Concord, Moore's Early and Hartford Prolific. Emerson says also, the Catawba, Elands Grape, Schuylkill, Elsinberg and others; Ravenal includes Diana and Rebecca. The Isabella and Catawba were introduced to notice in 1816, the Concord about 1854. Diana was exhibited in 1843, and Moore's Early for the first time in 1872. At the present time, 1879, 46 varieties of American grapes are approved by the American Pomological Society, and many others are before the public on probation. Oh account of the immunity of the grape vines derived from this species from the phylloxera, large numbers of vines have been exported to France for use in vineyards as stocks for grafting. At present, this species promises to be as prolific of valuable varieties as is the V. vinifera of Europe and Asia.

Vitis latifolia Roxb.

East Indies. The acid leaves are eaten.

Vitis linsecomii Buckl.


Texas. The grapes are from one-half to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, of a deep purple, tender, pleasant and free from musky flavor. It is cultivated in a few gardens in Texas.

Vitis monticola Buckl.


Texas; occasionally cultivated in gardens. The berries are large, white or amber-colored; skin thin; pulp tender, juicy and sweet.

Vitis mutabilis Miq.

Java. The berries are large and edible.

Vitis opaca F. Muell.

East Australia. The vine produces as many as eight to ten large tubers. Though insipid, these are eagerly sought by the natives for food.

Vitis pallida Wight & Arn.

Asia and African tropics. The berries are large, edible and particularly sweet.

Vitis quadrangularis Wall.

Arabia to India and central Africa. The berries are eaten in India, and the young shoots and leaves are used by the natives as a potherb.

Vitis riparia Michx.


Eastern North America. The berries are usually small, blackish or amber-colored and very acid. This species has given origin to the Clinton, Taylor, Elvira and other grapes now under cultivation.

Vitis rotundifolia Michx.


Southeastern United States. This species bears its berries in loose clusters, scarcely exceeding five or six berries, changing from reddishbrown to black in ripening, with a thick skin and large pulp. In a cultivated form, it occurs in several white and black varieties. In the southern states, it is highly relished and is used for domestic winemaking.

Vitis rubifolia Wall.

Himalayan regions. The berries are esculent.

Vitis rupestris Scheele.


Southwestern America. This species is the mountain grape of Texas. The stems are upright and but two or three feet high. The bunches are small and the berries are of the size of peas, black and very sweet and grateful to the taste.

Vitis schimperiana Hochst.

Abyssinia. Barter compares the edible berries to clusters of Frontignac grapes.

Vitis sicyoides Miq.

Tropical America. The black berries are eaten.

Vitis thrysiflora Miq.

Sumatra. The berries are large and edible.

Vitis trifolia Linn.

Asia and Australian tropics. The leaves are acid and edible.

Vitis uvifera Baker.

Tropical Africa. The berries are black, pulpy, of an austere, acid taste but are eaten by the natives.

Vitis vinifera Linn.


The European grape is found wild on the coast of the Caspian, in Armenia and in Karamania. From Asia, it passed into Greece and thence into Sicily. The Phocians carried it to the south of France; the Romans planted it on the banks of the Rhine. This grape is of the most ancient culture. Full details of wine-making and vineyards are figured under the Fourth (2440 B. C.), Seventeenth (1680 B. C.) and Eighteenth (1525 B. C.) Dynasties in Egypt, and vineyards and wine are mentioned in the Scriptural history of Noah. Its introduction into all parts of the world has but multiplied its peculiarities. Virgil says "we neither can recount how numerous the species, nor what are their names, nor imports it to comprise their number; which whoever would know the same may seek to learn how numerous are the sands of the Libyan sea tossed by the zephyr; as to know how many waves of the Ionian sea come to the shores, when Eurus, more violent, falls upon the ships." In the time of Chaptal, about 1825, there were 1400 varieties enumerated in the Luxembourg catalog obtained from France alone; the Geneva catalog numbered 600; Presl describes 44 varieties as cultivated in Sicily; Redding notices 12 kinds near Shiraz, Persia; and Burnes 10 kinds at Cabul. The Pinceau variety of France was known as long ago as 1394.

Some believe that the vine was introduced into England by the Romans, while, according to others, it was first brought by the Phoenicians, who also have the credit of having transplanted it from Palestine to the islands of the Mediterranean. The earliest English chronicles make mention of vineyards, and vine culture is said to have continued until the Reformation; but the English climate is not suitable and the grape is grown only under glass except in a few favored locations. The vine was brought to the New World by Columbus, and, in 1494 at Hayti, "cuttings from European vines already began to form their clusters." In 1741, there were some thousands of vines from Portugal thriving at Augusta, Georgia, and there are accounts of this vine in New Albion in 1647. There are accounts of wine-making from grapes of unknown species in Virginia in 1630, 1647, 1651; in Massachusetts, in 1634; in Pennsylvania, in 1683 and 1685; and in Indiana in 1804. In Chile and in California, its culture seems successful. In California, its introduction was due to the Missions which were mainly established from 1769 to 1820. Except in California, here and there a single vine in exceptional localities may succeed.

The currant, or Zante, grape is the variety which furnishes the dried currants of commerce, the individual grapes being no larger than peas, entirely free from seeds and of an agreeable flavor. This vine was introduced into the United States in 1855 and is now grown in California, where, however, it troubles the cultivator by occasionally producing seeds. At present, our supply of currant grapes comes from the Ionian Islands chiefly but they are also grown in France. Unlike other grape vines, this, in Zante, will not succeed upon the hills but flourishes in low lands, retentive of moisture, incapable of drainage and flooded for two months of the year.