Wild Grape Vine Identification


Learning to identify edible foods in the wild can help you stretch out a lean month. One prolific food in the middle and eastern portions of the United States is the wild grape, Vitis spp. Although they're often too sour to eat as a snack, wild grapes are a convenient source of fruit for juice and jelly.

Vine and Leaf Characteristics

  • Wild grape vines, in general, are clinging, trailing vines with tendrils that extend from the vine right across from a leaf. The leaves have relatively jagged margins, though they can be either heart- or maple-leaf shaped. The leaves are also alternate: one leaf will appear higher or lower on the opposite side of the vine from another leaf, instead of directly opposite it.

Fruit and Bark

  • The grapes themselves are dark purple and round, and they contain multiple seeds. One common description states that the bark on the stems of the vine comes off "in strips."


  • Poisonous moonseed looks very similar to wild grape, except for its smooth-edged leaves and the fact that the fruit contains only one seed that's shaped like a crescent. Before you go foraging, ask your county or university agricultural office if they have samples or pictures of both local wild grapes and poisonous lookalikes -- you must be able to positively identify edible and non-edible plants to avoid getting sick.


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