The other day a Monarch butterfly stopped to rest on the Wild Grape Vine which covers the chain link fence which surrounds my in-ground pool. I think that was the first time I’ve ever seen a butterfly lite on the grapevine, so it got me thinking. Do Wild Grapes support pollinators?
Wild Grapes support pollinators
According to my research, Wild Grape flowers are frequented by native bees and wasps, most notably the small sweat bees. They also are a source of food for songbirds, gamebirds and small and large mammals. I also found they were dioecious, which means they require insect cross-pollination, requiring both male and female plants to be able to produce fruit.
Grape vines are invasive
Wild grape species grow in a variety of habitats from dry, sandy soils to rich, moist soils throughout the United States. Using their tendrils for support, they like to climb and intertwine in upright structures. They can be absolutely deadly if left to overtake a tree canopy. They can block out light, reducing the photosynthesis and weakening the tree. They can form a platform which holds the weight of snow and ice, causing a weakened tree to break or even topple.
Wild grapes have small almost green flowers, barely visible to the human eye because they lie hidden under fast-growing leaves. In late summer to early fall their dark purplish-black berries appear and are immediately picked off by the birds and mammals. They propagate from seed or sucker from previously cut vine stumps, but they must have full sunlight. They do not thrive in the shade. The seeds spread by birds or mammals remain viable for many years, so given the right conditions, they can appear almost anywhere. Left without control, the vines can reach up to 50 feet (15 meters) and have many vines radiating out from one root ball.
Controlling grape vines
From PennState Extension, “there are three chemical herbicides available to control grape. Dicamba can be applied as a foliar spray, basal bark, or spot application. Fosamine herbicide works as a foliar spray. 2,4-D herbicide can be used as a selective treatment when applied as a stump treatment, basal bark spray, or tree injection. Caution must be taken when using any of these herbicides, because they will kill non-target broad-leaf under-story plants, seedlings, and saplings.”
Except for removing run-away grapevines on trees and shrubs, I prefer to cut the vines in the fall and paint the stems. I’ve found for most woody-type stem plants, cutting in fall when they’re starting to go dormant and painting the cut stem with herbicide is the most effective. Although tempting, cutting and painting during the summer when you first spy the plant, typically results in regrowth and suckering the following year, if not the same year.