SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Carey, Jennifer H. 1994. Vitis aestivalis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Vitis bicolor Leconte 
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
The currently accepted scientific name for summer grape is Vitis
aestivalis Michx. (Vitaceae) [10,18,24].
The following two varieties are recognized:
V. a. var. aestivalis (summer grape)
V. a. var. argentifolia (Munson) Fern. (silverleaf grape) [10,18,24]
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
See OTHER STATUS
OTHER STATUS :
Summer grape is listed as threatened in Maine .
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Summer grape occurs throughout the eastern United States. The range of
the typical variety extends from southern Maine west through southern
Ontario to Wisconsin; south to Texas; and east to Florida [6,10,11,18].
Vitis aestivalis var. argentifolia generally occurs farther north and
inland than the typical variety; its range extends from New Hampshire
west to southern Minnesota and south to Kansas, Missouri, Alabama,
Tennessee, and Virginia [10,32]. Both varieties are uncommon at their
northern limits .
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
AL AR CT DE FL GA IL IN IA KS
KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NH
NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX
VT VA WV WI ON
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K101 Elm - ash forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
50 Black locust
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
70 Longleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
89 Live oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
110 Black oak
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Summer grape occurs in open forests, woodlands, woodland borders, and
thickets [10,11]. It climbs nearly all hardwood and conifer tree
species that grow in its range . Summer grape may be exceedingly
abundant in or completely absent from a particular vegetation type [3,4].
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
More than 80 species of birds and animals eat summer grape berries; they
include songbirds, gamebirds (ruffed grouse, wild turkey, ring-necked
pheasant, and northern bobwhite), and furbearers (black bear, raccoon,
and skunk) [20,26,32]. Ripe grapes are available on the vine from
mid-August through mid-March; the peak abundance of fallen grapes occurs
in early November [20,26].
White-tailed deer browse foliage in the spring and early summer and
fallen leaves in the fall .
The twisted and tangled vines provide excellent escape and nesting cover
for songbirds. Birds use the peeling bark for nest construction
Summer grape is highly preferred by wild turkey .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
In a 4-year-old black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) stand, nitrogen
concentrations in summer grape leaves and stems averaged 2.36 and 0.44
percent oven-dry weight, respectively .
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
The fruit is edible and is used to make wine. Numerous cultivated forms
have been developed from summer grape [29,31].
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Summer grape damages and sometimes kills standing trees. Summer grape
generally reduces timber quality by breaking tops and limbs, twisting
and bending the main stems, augmenting winter damage by collecting snow
and ice, and interfering with photosynthesis by shading tree foliage.
On fertile sites, summer grape is often present in 50 percent of the
tree crowns [25,26].
Summer grape can be controlled in commercial forests by manually
severing the stem. This control method is effective if there are no
canopy openings and trees are tall enough that summer grape sprouts
cannot reach the sunlight within two growing seasons [25,26].
Summer grape survival after cutting the vine at ground level was
assessed in a mature West Virginia mixed hardwood forest. At the end of
the first growing season following the severing of 20 large summer grape
stems, all 20 plants had sprouted and a few sprouts exceeded 12 feet
(3.7 m) in height. At the end of the second growing season, most first
year sprouts had died and a few new sprouts were present. By the end of
the third growing season, all summer grape plants were dead. A similar
3-year pattern was observed in thinned and unthinned 12- and 18-year-old
stands. However, sprouts grew into the canopy of a thinned 7-year-old
stand that averaged 9 to 10 feet (2.7-3.0 m) in height .
Trimble and Tyron  recommend that trees be a minimum of 25 feet (7.6
m) tall if summer grape stems are cut when the stand is thinned and a
minimum of 18 feet (5.5 m) tall if no thinning takes place. Summer
grape removal from shorter stands by stem severing should be postponed.
Herbicides are effective against summer grape in commercial forests that
are too young for control by severing. Summer grape should be cut 4
years before tree harvest to prevent the fast-growing sprouts from
interfering with the postharvest tree regeneration.
Summer grape seedlings are abundant after tree harvest but are not as
detrimental as sprouts to regenerating stands. One year after
clearcutting in West Virginia, there were 70,000 summer grape seedlings
per acre (172,900/ha). However, after 6 years, only 278 vines per acre
(687/ha) were established in tree crowns. Only 5 percent of the trees
were infested .
Seed collection and propagation techniques are described for summer
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Summer grape is a native, deciduous, high-climbing liana
[10,11,18]. It climbs by tendrils to about 33 feet (10 m), or sprawls
over low bushes and trees . The stem diameter is usually about 1
inch (2.5 cm) but may be as much as 9 inches (22.9 cm), with ages
approaching 100 years . The fruit is a berry 0.2 to 0.5 inches
(0.5-1.2 cm) in diameter . The roots are large and hard .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Summer grape regenerates by vegetative reproduction and by seed.
Sprouts originate from vegetative buds both above and below ground.
Sprouts may grow 5 to 15 feet (1.5-4.6 m) in the first growing season.
Sprouts survive only 3 years under a closed-canopy forest. Summer grape
also reproduces by layering [25,26].
Summer grape produces seed 3 years after establishment. Good crops
occur most years in those vines with access to full sunlight [3,4,20].
Summer grape vines that do not receive full sunlight may flower but
usually do not bear grape clusters [3,4]. On fertile sites in North
Carolina, cluster-bearing summer grape vines averaged 1.2 ounces
oven-dry weight fruit per vine (37.1 g/vine) excluding fruit lost to
disease and insect predation . Seed is disseminated by wind and
Summer grape fruit production is reduced by black rot fungus (Guignardia
bidwelldii) and curculio beetle (Craponius inaequalis). In years of
heavy black rot fungus attack, seeds may only be 50 percent viable .
In a 2-year study of a North Carolina mixed hardwood forest, 37 percent
of the summer grape berries were infected by black rot and 57 percent
were damaged by curculio beetles .
Summer grape seeds accumulate in the seedbank and germinate only when
light and temperature conditions are favorable. In a West Virginia
study, the germination rate averaged 19 percent after 11 years of soil
Seedlings grow much more slowly than sprouts and the tops are usually
winter-killed after the first growing season. In West Virginia seedling
height after two growing seasons averaged 0.51 feet (0.16 m) .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Summer grape grows on fertile, well-drained, upland sites with abundant
soil moisture. It grows on bench areas, coves, and southeast-facing
slopes of ravines where organic matter has accumulated . In North
Carolina, summer grape is abundant on slightly rocky, steep sites with
an east-southeasterly aspect and below 4,230 feet (1,290 m) elevation
. Summer grape occasionally occurs on floodplains or lowlands
[11,17], including hydric hammocks of Florida .
Summer grape grows on a wide variety of soil types including sand, clay,
and loam but is most abundant on light, nutrient-rich soils [21,24,26,
29]. In Mississippi, summer grape grows in the poorly drained clay soil
of bottomland hardwood forests .
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Facultative Seral Species
Summer grape is intolerant of shade. It persists in closed forests only
if it is present in the upper canopy. Under closed canopies, summer
grape seedlings are seldom present and vegetative sprouts die within 3
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
In North Carolina, summer grape flowers emerge with leaves in mid-April.
Leaves are fully grown by the end of May. Flowers bloom and pollination
occurs the first 2 weeks of June, and fruit sets by late June . In
the southern Appalachian region, fruit ripens in early fall, with large
clusters falling by mid-November [4,20,24].
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Although abundant in moist hardwood sites which do not commonly burn,
summer grape also occurs in many communities which regularly experience
fire including oak (Quercus spp.) and pine (Pinus spp.) forests
[5,12,16]. On Cumberland Island, Georgia, summer grape occurs in scrub
communities which historically experienced wildfire every 20 to 27 years
. The ability of summer grape to sprout and to accumulate dormant
seed in the soil enables it to resist fire. Canopy openings caused by
fire favor summer grape establishment. Fire exclusion may lead to a
decline in summer grape.
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page
under "Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Summer grape is probably top-killed by most fire.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Summer grape sprouts from the root crown after fire, and dormant seed in
the soil probably germinates after fire when conditions are favorable.
In an oak-hickory (Carya spp.) upland community in Missouri, summer
grape was present in annually and periodically spring burned plots, but
not in the unburned control plot . In an upland oak forest in
Tennessee, summer grape was more frequent on plots burned every 5 years
by late winter fires than on the unburned control plot . After
twelve years of biennial burning on a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)
site in Louisiana, summer grape was present on at least half of the four
plots assigned to each of four prescribed fire treatments: March, May,
or June biennial fires and an unburned control .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Summer grape can function as a ladder fuel, especially when foliage is
dry or debris accumulates along the vine.
SPECIES: Vitis aestivalis
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