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Vitis arizonica



INTRODUCTORY


 
 

Lee Dittmann, www.nazflora.org.
Used with permission.

AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Gucker, Corey L. 2006. Vitis arizonica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us /database/feis/plants/vine/vitari/all.html [].

Revisions:
On 2 March 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: Arizona grape
to: canyon grape.

FEIS ABBREVIATION:
VITARI

SYNONYMS:
Vitis treleasei [29]
Vitis arizonica var. arizonica [38]
Vitis arizonica var. glabra [31,38,46]

NRCS PLANT CODE [64]:
VIAR2

COMMON NAMES:
canyon grape
Arizona grape

TAXONOMY:
The scientific name of canyon grape is Vitis arizonica Engelm. (Vitaceae) [29,30,31,73]. Canyon grape may hybridize with mustang grape (V. mustangensis), sweet mountain grape (V. monticola), and California wild grape (V. californica) when distributions overlap [69].

When literature is cited is this review that refers to the Vitis genus only, the common name for the genus, grape, is used.

LIFE FORM:
Vine-liana

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status

OTHER STATUS:
None

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Vitis arizonica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:
Canyon grape occurs in southeastern Nevada, southwestern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas [30,31,38,46,73]. Its range likely extends into northern Mexico as well. Plants Database provides a distributional map of canyon grape.

ECOSYSTEMS [23]:
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES

AZ NV NM TX UT

MEXICO
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [8]:
7 Lower Basin and Range
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

KUCHLER [35] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K027 Mesquite bosques
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K041 Creosote bush
K044 Creosote bush-tarbush
K045 Ceniza shrub
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
K060 Mesquite savanna

SAF COVER TYPES [21]:
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
217 Aspen
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood-willow
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper
242 Mesquite

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [54]:
401 Basin big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
418 Bigtooth maple
422 Riparian
502 Grama-galleta
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
508 Creosotebush-tarbush
701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass
705 Blue grama-galleta
706 Blue grama-sideoats grama
707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama
713 Grama-muhly-threeawn
714 Grama-bluestem
716 Grama-feathergrass
729 Mesquite

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Canyon grape may occur as a component of the vegetation classifications listed above. It is a dominant or important species in the following classifications:

Arizona:

New Mexico:

Utah: Southwest:

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Vitis arizonica

 

    
 

2005 T. Beth Kinsey, Wildflowers of Tucson.


GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [16,30,31,38,46,67,73]).

Canyon grape is a phenotypically variable, woody, deciduous vine. It has many branches with weak tendrils, growing 7 to 20 feet (2-6 m) long. Height is dependent on surrounding vegetation or support [16,30,46,58,73]. Tendrils without support abort within a year [16,65,67]. Canyon grape is long lived and dense patches are possible [30,34].

Root systems are described as "relatively sparse and wandering," and it is thought that carbohydrate reserves are concentrated in the woody trunk [69]. Plants in the Davis Mountains of Texas had trunks with diameters of 4 inches (10 cm) or more [27]. Stems are slender and tapered from the base to the apex. Bark is often shredded [30,38,73]. The large simple leaves are arranged alternately and typically have 3 shallow lobes [30,31,46,67]. Leaves measure 1 to 5 inches (3-12 cm) long with a similar or slightly larger width [16,73].

Canyon grape plants are dioecious or "subdioecious," and flowers are "actually or functionally unisexual" [16,17]. Small flowers occur in 2 to 4 inch (4-10 cm)-long clusters that are borne opposite the leaves. A nectar disk occurs at the base of the ovary [16,38,46,67,73]. Berries or grapes develop in clusters [43]. Grapes are juicy, thin skinned, and approximately 0.2 to 0.4 inch (6-10 mm) in diameter. They house 2 to 4 pear-shaped seeds that measure 4 to 5 mm long [16,30,38,46,67,73].

RAUNKIAER [47] LIFE FORM:
Phanerophyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:
Information on canyon grape's reproductive biology is lacking. Vegetative reproduction occurs [26,69], and seeds are produced, although not reliably [37,52,69].

Pollination: Canyon grape flowers are predominantly unisexual. Flowers contain nectar suggesting that insect visitation is probable [16].

Breeding system: Plants are most often described as dioecious [16,69]. However, some suggest that perfect flowers occur rarely [16,31,38]. The sex ratio in natural habitats is heavily male weighted. Female plants often die in their 1st fruiting season if stressed. Typically there are 3 to 4 times as many male plants as female plants [69].

Seed production: Year-to-year fruit and seed production is unpredictable [37,52,69].

Seed dispersal: Canyon grapes are eaten by a variety of mammals and birds, which are the primary dispersers [69].

Seed banking: Very little information on canyon grape seed banks is available. In the Garden Canyon drainage of the Huachuca Mountains in Cochise County, Arizona, canyon grape was present in extant riparian Arizona sycamore-bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) vegetation but did not emerge from riparian soil samples collected in March [48].

Germination: Seed germination is unreliable even with careful seed stratification and seed bed preparation, suggesting that germination under natural conditions may be a rare event or that some event that occurs naturally is not well mimicked in the greenhouse or laboratory. Grape seeds may germinate within 2 weeks or may take more than a year. Unpredictable germination may be an advantage in variable environments [69].

Seedling establishment/growth: No information is available on this topic.

Asexual regeneration: Canyon grape layers [26,69] and likely sprouts from the root crown following top-kill [69]. More research is need on canyon grape regeneration.

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Canyon grape is most common on moist but well drained sites with minimal shade [65]. In Nevada canyon grape occurs along streambanks, in canyons, and in woodlands dominated by creosotebush (Larrea tridentata), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.), or sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) [30]. Canyon bottoms, rocky slopes, and moist areas of southern Utah provide canyon grape habitat [73]. In Arizona canyon grape often climbs the surrounding vegetation in deciduous forests and woodlands along perennial and semiperennial streams [10,31].

Climate: Drought conditions and cold temperatures are tolerated by canyon grape but excessive moisture is not [58,65,67]. However, Walker [69] indicates that reliable water is necessary for canyon grape persistence. In canyon grape habitats of Trans-Pecos, Texas, freezing temperatures are common in late spring [27]. Near the Fort Bowie National Historic Site in southern Arizona where canyon grape grows, the climate is mild. The average July temperature is 78 F (26 C) and average January temperature is 45 F (7 C). Gentle rains occur irregularly from December through March and from July through September; the majority of the year's precipitation falls in intense summer storms. Annual precipitation averages 12.3 inches (312 mm), but lows of 7.8 inches (197 mm) and highs of 22.8 inches (579 mm) were recorded [71]. In north-central Mexico, fierce windstorms can occur in late winter and spring. In Albuquerque the average annual precipitation is 7.4 inches (190 mm). The mountains may receive 20 to 24 inches (510-610 mm) of precipitation annually, and snow is common. In the lowlands, most of the rain comes in powerful storms from July through September. Moisture delivered in heavy rains is seldom fully absorbed. Evaporation typically exceeds rainfall by 10 times. Night temperatures of 0 F< (-20 C) or below are common in January and daily temperature ranges are often great. In a 10-year-period, the maximum summer temperature was 104 F (40 C) [72].

Elevation: Canyon grape is most often found in the canyons of southwestern mountain ranges and rarely found in the valley floors [17]. Throughout its southwestern range it occurs from 2,000 to 7,500 feet (610-2,300 m) [67].

Below are canyon grape elevational tolerances by state.

State Elevation range
Arizona 2,000-7,500 feet [31]
Nevada 2,500-6,000 feet [30]
New Mexico 5,000-7,500 feet [38]
Texas (Trans-Pecos) 2,500-6,500 feet [46]
Utah 2,800-4,430 feet[73]

Soils: Soils in canyon grape habitats are moist but sandy and well drained. In general grapes prefer fertile soils [37]. In Texas canyon grape occupies alkaline soils [27]. Van Dersal [65] reports that canyon grape prefers sandy soils over heavy or clay soils. Excessive moisture can lead to mildew or rotting. However, Woodbury [74] indicates that canyon grape requires moisture at the roots.

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
The sparse available information suggests that canyon grape tolerates disturbance but also persists in climax communities. Canyon grape is typically present in early succession and grows well in disturbed habitats with sufficient moisture [69]. Canyon grape is common in the understory of late-successional ponderosa pine/blue grama communities of Arizona and New Mexico [1]. Along Sycamore Creek in Maricopa County, Arizona, canyon grape was present in upland riparian vegetation. Researchers suggested that none of these riparian communities could be accurately described as late successional because of flooding, scouring, and deposition events [12].

Martin and others indicate that grapes require sunlight [37]. However, canyon grape was common in a closed-canopy Arizona walnut/netleaf hackberry-gum bully community type of Fort Bowie National Historic Site [71].

Grazing: Canyon grape's tolerance of browsing and/or livestock loafing is unclear. Brown [9] reports that canyon grape is common in Sonoran riparian deciduous forests and woodlands that have not been heavily grazed. However, canyon grape was present in the riparian vegetation along 2 southeastern Arizona creeks with different grazing pressures. Canyon grape occurred on an Aravaipa Creek site where grazing had been excluded for 7 years prior to study, but was also present on a Bonita Creek site that had been grazed for more than 100 years and perhaps most severely in the 9 years prior to the study. Abundance of canyon grape was not reported on the 2 contrasting sites [49].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Flowering typically occurs from April to July, and fruits are produced and ripen from July to September [14,65]. Flower and fruit production by state is presented below.

Region/state Flowering Fruiting
Arizona April-July [31] ----
Nevada April-May[30] ----
New Mexico April-July [38] ----
Texas (Trans-Pecos) spring August-October[46]

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Vitis arizonica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Fire adaptations: Published information on canyon grape and fire is lacking. According to Walker, professor of viticulture and enology at the University of California Davis, canyon grape in moist or wet habitats is rarely killed by fire. Severely scorched or top-killed plants sprout from the root crown [69]. Regeneration potential from a seed bank or off-site seed source is undocumented. More research is needed to adequately assess canyon grape's fire adaptations.

Fire regimes: Fire history studies in canyon grape habitats are also lacking. Canyon grape's sprawling and climbing growth habit suggests that it may have potential as a ladder fuel. Climate conditions, current and past land use, and surrounding vegetation probably affect the likelihood of canyon grape habitats burning. The following information from the southwestern United States suggests that canyon grape habitats do experience fire. Habitats may differ, however, in frequency and/or severity. White fir/Arizona walnut communities of central Arizona and New Mexico are believed to burn infrequently and erratically [60]. The Tonto National Monument in Arizona reported several fires between 1970 and 1985. Fire size was generally small but ranged from 1 to 500 acres (0.4-200 ha) [45]. In southwestern riparian areas where saltcedar (Tamarix chinensis) occurs, the fire frequency is 16 to 20 years due to the rapid litter accumulation of this species [33].

Studies from the Southwestern Forest Service Region indicate that lightning fires are very common. The lightning fire season is long (April-October), and large numbers of lightning fires occur in most fire seasons. In a 36-year period (1940-1975), 59,518 lightning fires occurred in the southwestern region, and average fire size was 13 acres (5.3 ha). More than 75% of the lightning fires were kept within 0.25 acre (0.1 ha). Fire size increased over the 36-year period. From 1940 to 1949, a total of 101,266 acres (40,981 ha) burned, and average fire size was 7.3 acres (3 ha). From 1970 to 1975, a total 215,890 acres (87,368) burned, and fire size averaged 17.2 acres (7 ha). Fires in June were typically the largest, and more than 75% of fires occurred at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 m). More than 60% of lightning fires burned in ponderosa pine forests; however, lightning fire size was typically greatest in grass or shrublands [6].

Before 1900 low-severity surface fires were common in pine-oak (Pinus-Quercus spp.), ponderosa pine, and mixed-conifer forest types in the Madrean Borderlands of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. "The maximum fire-free interval on all sites and forests from 5,600 to 9,500 feet (1,700-2,900 m) was 8 to 23 years" [62]. Fire frequency was lower in low elevation and dry ponderosa pine habitats than in higher-elevation and more mesic mixed conifer habitats [63]. No surface fires were recorded by fire scars after 1900. Increased livestock grazing is likely the primary reason for decreased surface fires. Intensive grazing in the area decreased fine fuels, and trails, fences, and roads disrupted fuel continuity [62]. Based on fire scar data from Apache pine and Arizona pine (Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica) trees at elevations of 5,900 to 8,200 feet (1,800-2,500 m) in Chiricahua Mountain canyons, researchers estimated that the fire return interval was 1 to 22 years from 1600 through the 1800s [28].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where canyon grape is important. 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".

Community or ecosystem Dominant species Fire return interval range (years)
basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [51]
mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 15-40 [3,11,41]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 (x=40) [66,77]
birch Betula spp. 80-230 [61]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. <35 [44,75]
grama-galleta steppe Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii <35 to <100
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum <35
creosotebush Larrea tridentata <35 to <100
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. <35 [44]
Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-400+ [22,24,32,44]
interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [2,5,36]
Arizona pine Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica 2-15 [5,15,53]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-120 [2,25,40]
mesquite Prosopis glandulosa <35 to <100 [39,44]
Texas savanna Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa <10 [44]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [2,3,4]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. <35 to <200
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [44]
elm-ash-cottonwood Ulmus-Fraxinus-Populus spp. <35 to 200 [18,68]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [59]:
Shrub/vine, adventitious bud/root crown

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Vitis arizonica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Canyon grape may occasionally be killed but is probably most often top-killed by fire.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
No additional information is available on this topic.

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Canyon grape sprouts from the root crown following top-kill or severe scorching and is rarely killed by fire in moist or wet habitats [69]. Regeneration potential from a seed bank is unknown.

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
No additional information is available on this topic.

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
The effects of fire on canyon grape including immediate postfire effects, recovery time, and regeneration methods are unknown. Research is needed on pre- and postfire vegetation characteristics for this species.

Southwestern riparian areas invaded by saltcedar burn at 16- to 20-year intervals, which is thought to be a frequency greater than native riparian vegetation can tolerate. Canyon grape's associations, habitats, and disturbance regimes may be altered by saltcedar [33].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Vitis arizonica
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
A variety of southwestern mammals and birds utilize canyon grape fruits, browse, and habitats [30,31,37].

Deer: Reviews report that canyon grape contributes to southwestern white-tailed deer diets [56]. Canyon grape use was moderate and comprised 6% to 15% of rumen contents collected in the fall [55].

Other mammals: Canyon grape berries are a "prize" food of skunks, foxes, coyotes, and bears [65,67]. Martin and others [37] report that 0.5% to 2% of northern raccoons and coyote diets are grapes. Woodbury [74] cites work by another author, which reported that captive northern raccoons preferred grapes.

Birds: Both game and songbirds feed on canyon grape berries and utilize canyon grape habitats. Martin [37] reports that 0.5% to 2% of greater prairie-chicken and white-winged dove diets, 2% to 5% of brown and sage thrasher diets, and 10% to 25% of fox sparrow and cedar waxwing diets are grapes.

Scaled, Gambel's, and Montezuma quails eat canyon grape fruits [65,67]. Wild turkeys in the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico feed heavily on canyon grape [52]. Canyon grape ranked 8th to 10th among the 10 most commonly utilized wild turkey forages from 1985 to 1991 in the southern Peloncillo Mountains [76].

Grape foliage in the summer can be dense and provides important habitat for nesting songbirds. Grapevine bark is utilized in nest construction [37]. In the Peloncillo Mountains, Emory oak/canyon grape habitats were avoided in the winter but selected in the spring by wild turkeys [76]. In the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, researchers located a Mearn's quail nest that produced 8 or 9 chicks in maple (Acer spp.)-Arizona sycamore woodlands where canyon grape was a common understory species [70].

Reptiles: The green rat snake, considered threatened in New Mexico, is associated with rocky canyons with ephemeral or perennial streams where canyon grape is common [42]. See New Mexico's Department of Game and Fish for more information on the green rat snake and its current protective status.

Insects: Grapeleaf miner moths feed on canyon grape in Zion National Park, Utah [74].

Palatability/nutritional value: Canyon grape fruits are highly palatable. Nutritional value of browse and/or fruits is unknown.

Cover value: Canyon grape foliage provides important cover for birds and small mammals, especially when foliage is dense in the summer months [37]. In Arizona walnut/netleaf hackberry-gum bully communities of Fort Bowie National Historic Site, southern Arizona, canyon grape occasionally tangles with other trees and shrubs, creating dense thickets that are likely important to wildlife [71].

VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Canyon grape has potential for the rehabilitation of disturbed sites [58]. Its growth form and layering habit may be useful in erosion control [30,31,67]. Cuttings taken from canyon grape "semihardwood" in Nevada rooted with 60% success. Its easy propagation by cuttings may be important to the success of revegetation efforts [20].

OTHER USES:
Canyon grape berries are juicy and described as very sweet to slightly bitter [67,73]. Fruits were often used to make jellies and juices [30,31]. Pueblo people cultivated canyon grape and ate the fruits fresh and dried [26,67]. Fruits were also eaten fresh or dried by the Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache [14]. Native Americans and early European settlers chewed on canyon grape leaves as a way to quench their thirst [30]. Navajo people placed a cross of canyon grape on top of a cornmeal and paper bread basket during courtship [19].

Canyon grapes in Trans-Pecos, Texas, were suggested as rootstocks for grafting wine grapes (Vitis vinifera) because of their adaptation to local climate and soils [27].

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Any information regarding canyon grape's disturbance ecology would aid in the future management of this species.

Vitis arizonica: REFERENCES


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