Herding wild grape vines

Many of the grapes are smaller in 2016, but sweeter and not as tart as in previous years. May have something to do with Ottawa's drier and less humid summer.

Many of the grapes are smaller in 2016, but sweeter and not as tart as in previous years. May have something to do with Ottawa’s drier and less humid summer.

You see them all over Ottawa. They’re especially noticeable in the late summer and early fall when the maple-leaf shaped leaves shade the dripping purple fruit of the wild grape. Their strong, thick vines glue themselves to fences, telephone and hydro poles and, unfortunately, trees.

The wild grape has become an invasive species in many parts of Ontario. In both rural and urban areas the vine has taken over and shrubs and trees have been some of its victims. If left unchecked, the vines can grow to the size of their environment, so even a 70′ tree is no match for their continual slithering. (I’m sure if you stood still long enough, you too would succumb.)

If you have nuisance grape vines, now is the time to get them under control. You don’t need to take them out completely, especially if you plan to use the bounty of the plant, but ensure that the trees and shrubs have a fighting chance against the wild grape vine as well as its partner in crime, the false Virginia creeper.

Wild grape vines will smother whole trees if left to their own devices. 2014 Hampton Park

Wild grape vines will smother whole trees if left to their own devices. 2014 Hampton Park

The leaves, best picked in the spring, are used in dolma recipes. There may still be some tender leaves available, or a good blanching of the leaves might work. I am as far from being a dolma expert as a stink bug is from getting a perfume named after it, so I’d be happy to learn if this is do-able. Anyone?

The grapes are used for wines, vinegars, jellies and jams. Remember that the wild variety are very seedy, not really surprising, given their aforementioned creepiness.

It may be too late for this blue spruce, which is slowly being strangled by grape vines.

It may be too late for this blue spruce, which is slowly being strangled by grape vines.

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5 responses to “Herding wild grape vines

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