Vitis aestivalis – Summer Grapes

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Summer grapes (Vitis aestivalis) are a native grape species that ripen in early November, when the berries turn deep purple. The first frost helps to sweeten the grapes.
Wild grapes can be identified by their large three-lobed leaves, and mature dark brown, shaggy bark.
Wild grapes can be enjoyed raw or turned into jelly. Leaves can also be used to make stuffed grape leaves.
Grapes are high in magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B6. Grapes are also high is resveratrol which has been shown to be neuroprotective, glucose regulatory, and beneficial for the cardiovascular system.
Wild grapes must be differentiated from the toxic Canadian Moonseed (Menispermum canadense), which has smooth foliage, lacks forked tendrils, has fruit that doesn’t grow in tight clusters, and has a single crescent-shaped seed in the berries. In contrast, wild grapes have toothed leaves, forked tendrils, fruit hanging down in tight clusters, and 1-4 pear shaped seeds in the berries.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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