Thursday, January 31, 2008

Muscadine Grape

Just as the boardwalk begins to level off of its descent from the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest, one encounters the Muscadine Grape (Vitis rotundifolia) sign. There is a nail in the tree next to the sign which signifies how close the water crept to the nature center after the rains of Hurricane David in 1979. To put that into perspective, grapes floating away from this vine would have bumped into the midrail of the boardwalk out by Goodson Lake.

Muscadine Grape is a high-climbing vine (up to 100') if trees of that height are available. From Richard D. Porcher's and Douglas A. Rayner's A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina, "Two types of domestic grapes originated from this species. Plants with amber-green fruits are called scuppernongs, and those with purple fruits are called muscadines (as are the wild, black-fruited plants). Few fruits have been used for so long and for so many uses as V. rotundifolia. The fruits can be eaten plain or made into wine, jelly, juice, preserves, used in pies, or sun dried for future use. Muscadine leaves can be stuffed or rolled with a wide assortment of foods, then boiled. Muscadines are rich in vitamins B and C and iron. A wide variety of wildlife eat muscadines, and they are excellent plants to cultivate for wildlife."

For those of you that thinking of collecting fruits before the wildlife get to them, remember that Muscadine Grape fruits during hurricane season (Aug-Oct).

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