Saturday, November 21, 2009

Grape Vine

If you have trees, you’re bound to have some vines. Big vines need big trees for support. This Eastern Red Cedar and its accompanying grape vine are a good example. Vines have a way of bringing down the tree that supports them. I don’t think this cedar is in any danger of being overwhelmed.

This vine has been growing here for a long time. Its coloration matches that of the cedar and it seems to share the same lichens and mosses on its bark.

This is quite a thick base. People often cut grape vines from the woods to protect valuable timber. Vines in high numbers can be a problem, but a few scattered around have definite wildlife value and I believe add to the woodland aesthetics. It may look as though I’m trying to choke the life out of this vine, but it’s more like a hearty handshake and a wish that it continue its healthy growth.

The shaggy bark harbors a multitude of insects. I see lots of bird species working their way along the vines probing for insects. Back in the days when everyone was going to get rich selling grape vine wreaths, I would see people wrestling with vines like this in an effort to pull the vine from the tree. Aside from sweat and pulled muscles, all they ever accomplished was to shake a lot of this pretty bark loose.

It’s amazing how far up you have to go to find where a large vine like this is actually attached to the tree. When young, the grape vine uses tendrils to cling to bark and branches as it makes its ascent. As the vine thickens, the tendrils are lost and the vine hangs free.

As the vine nears the top of the tree, it spreads out through the tree canopy. Where the vines emerge into the sunlight, grapes are formed. Sometimes the vines will travel to adjacent trees and anchor several trees together. If one of the joined trees falls it may take the whole bunch with it.


  1. Steve, are these woodland grape vines generally native?

  2. Jain - As far as I know, all the grapes you'll find in the woods are native. At Blue jay Barrens I have the Fox Grape and Frost Grape. There's probably a faint chance of finding a domesticated grape gone wild, but these normally only grow where planted by people. I do know that the Fox Grape is the source of the domesticated concord grape.