Native North American Grapes
Vitis Riparia

bunch grapes

"Riparia has had a confusing history under a variety of names,
including Vitis Vulpina, but remains the most widely distributed
of all native North American grapes...."

Vitis Riparia

Vitis Riparia (Michaux): Commonly, the Bermuda Vine, Frost Grape, June Grape, Maple Leaved Canadian Grape, Mignonette Vine, River Grape, Riverside Grape, Riverbank Grape, Scented Grape, Sweet-Scented Grape, Uferrebe Grape, and Vignes des Battures; botanically, the Vitis Amara, Vitis Boulderensis, Vitis Callosa (Le Conte), Vitis Canadensis Aceris Folio (Tournefort), Vitis Colombina, Vitis Concolor, Vitis Cordifolia (Darlington), Vitis Cordifolia Riparia (Torr. et Gray), Vitis Cordifolia var. Riparia (Gray), Vitis Cordifolia var. Culpina (Eaton), Vitis Dimidiata (Le Conte), Vitis Hyemalis (Le Conte), Vitis Illinoensis (Prince), Vitis Incisa (Planchon), Vitis Intermedia (Nuttal), Vitis Missouriensis (Prince), Vitis Montana, Vitis Odoratissima (Donn.), Vitis Odoratissima (Pursh), Vitis Palmata (Vahl), Vitis Populifolia, Vitis Riparia var. Palmata (Planchon), Vitis Riparia var. Praecox (Englemann), Vitis Rubra (Desf.), Vitis Serotina (Bartram), Vitis Tenuifolia (le Conte), Vitis Virginiana (Hort.), Vitis Virginana (Poir), Vitis Virginiana Sylvestris (Parkins), Vitis Virginiensis (de Juss), Vitis Vulpina (Linnaeus), Vitis Vulpina var. Praecox (Bailey), Vitis Vulpina var. Riparia (Regel), and Vitis Vulpina var. Syrt. (Fernald and Weigand).


General: A vigorous to very vigorous climbing vine. Shoots are cylindrical or slightly angled and usually smooth and slender. Diaphrams are thin, tendrils are slender, intermittent, and usually bifid. Leaves are approximately as broad as long without measuring the pointed tip. Clusters are medium to small, generally compact, and shouldered. Berries are small to medium, black with a heavy blue bloom. Seeds usually 2-4, small, slightly notched, short, plump, and with short beak. Very variable in flavor and time of ripening.

Leaves: The leaves have large stems, are medium to large in size, thin, and three-lobed; lower leaves are often five-lobed; sinuses are shallow and often angular; margins with incised, sharply serrated teeth of variable size; light-green color, glabrous above, and usually glabrous but sometimes slightly pubescent on ribs and veins below; tapering point at terminus.

Grapes: Small to medium, compact clusters with short peduncle and often many berries. Berries small to medium, sharply acid, but without any foxy or wild taste. When thoroughly ripe or over-ripe and even slightly shriveled, the flavor is much liked by many. The flesh is neither pulpy nor solid and dissolves in the mouth and separates readily from the seed (by james key) . Average sugar content and excessive acid. Both are corrected if both sugar and water are added to the must.

Distinguishing: Thin diaphram; early bloomer; easily propagates from cuttings; seeds have an indistinct or almost indistinct and depressed chalaza and raphe; and the small terminal leaves of shoots remain folded for some days after they are formed, opening gradually as they become larger.


Riparia is the most widely distributed of any American species of grape. It is found in New Brunswick and northern Quebec to Manitoba and Montana, south to Tennessee, northern Texas, Colorado, and Utah, and from the Atlantic to the Rockies in all areas in between. It is known to withstand temperatures to -60 degrees F., is moderately drought resistent when naturalized to such conditions, and is found along the banks of streams, in ravines, on the islands of rivers, and in wet places.


Riparia attains age comparable to Vinifera.

Horticultural Considerations

Riparia is more resistent to the injurous effects of excessive lime than either Rupestris or Aestivalis. It is very resistent to phylloxera. It is less resistent to rot than Aestivalis, but somewhat more resistent than Labrusca. The foilage is rarely attacked by mildew, but is susceptible to the leaf-hopper. Riparia grows readily from from cuttings and makes a good stock for grafting, where the union with other species is usually permanent. Native Riparias are early bloomers but late ripeners, and their fruit is best for wine when left on the vine until over-ripe and even slightly shriveled.

Cultivars and Hybrids

The better rootstocks in France have been given varietal names such as Riparia Gloire, Riparia Grand Glabre, Riparia Scribner, Riparia Martin, and others. There are no American or Canadian counterparts to these French varietals.

Last update was November 3rd, 2000.

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