Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Wild Grapes: Vitis spp.

vitisspp7-10.jpg (153730 bytes) Weed Description:  Woody vines that may grow prostrate along the ground or climb over other vegetation and objects.   Wild grapes can form large thickets and choke-out much of the existing vegetation.   Several species of wild grapes occur throughout the eastern half of the United States, and these are primarily weeds of orchards, vineyards, ornamental nurseries, fence rows, landscapes, and pastures.
Leaves:  Several species of Vitis occur with leaves that are generally ovate in outline and taper to a distinct point.   Some species has leaves that are divided into 3 to 5 lobes.  Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, have veins that arise from a common point, and have toothed margins.

Stems:  Climb over other vegetation or objects by way of tendrils or grow prostrate along the ground.   Stems become woody with age and the bark sheds in strips.  The tendrils that aide in climbing are forked and arise opposite from the leaves.  Stem sections that have been cut can easily generate new plants.

Fruit:  Many berries that occur in a cluster, each berry ranging from 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter.  Berries are purplish-black when mature.

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Flowers: Occur in clusters that arise from the area between the stem and leaf petiole (leaf axils).  Individual flowers are relatively inconspicuous and greenish-yellow in color.

Identifying Characteristics: The ovate leaves that taper to a point with toothed margins, forked tendrils that arise oppositely from the leaves, and climbing growth habit are all features that help in the identification of wild grapes.   Burcucumber (Sicyos angulatus), Japanese Hops (Humulus japonicus), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), and Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) are all species that have a climbing or trailing growth habit and may be encountered as a weed in similar environments, however none of these weeds have the forked tendrils that are characteristic of the Vitis species.