WHAT’S THAT PLANT IN MY WOODLAND? – Woody Vines / Wild Grape

Woody Vines . . . sounds like a group of musicians with a gig in a small town VFW every Thursday night.

For the purposes of this segment, woody vines will be about species commonly found in many Midwest woodlands. Let’s start with the one that at maturity could go toe-to-toe with the vines Johnny Weismuller used to swing through the jungle in the old Tarzan movies.

Wild/Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Though a native plant, wild grape or riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) is often cut and removed by woodland owners because of its tendency to aggressively sprawl over and about native shrubs and tree saplings. I have exterminated a few myself from a thicket of Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) or black cherry saplings (Prunus serotina) that are being smothered by wild grape.

Like a delinquent teenager, wild grape just needs positive re-direction. For example, we have all heard about the neighbor who won’t cut down buckthorn because it provides such a nice (????) privacy screen. Solution – using the frill-cut method, buckthorn dies but the structure stands for many years. Replant wild grape at the base of the deceased buckthorn to provide a natural trellis for the wild grape to sprawl up and spread out. Three positive outcomes are accomplished:

1. The spread of future buckthorn seeds has been stopped.
2. Privacy is retained by the homeowner (who will hopefully replant with native shrubs!).
3. Birds have a plentiful source of purplish-black native berries to eat.

“Hang on” until Woody Vines is continued in my next blog segment.

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

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