South Dakota Native Plant Research
Vitaceae : Vitis riparia

Vitaceae : Vitis riparia


Download Seed: The seed is around 5 mm long. (157 KB)

Download Seedling: Two month old seedling of wild grape grown in research greenhouse. (78 KB)

Download Vegetative: The leaves are simple. (2.6 MB)

Download Flowering: Flowers are produced in small panicles. (577 KB)

Download Fruiting: The dark purple fruit is borne in clusters. (600 KB)

Download Wild grapes: Wild grapes growing near Brookings, S.D. (1.3 MB)

Download Research garden: Wild grape seedling dormant in research garden at SDSU. (114 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Riverbank grape, Wild grape

Native American Name

Dakota: Hasta ha ka; Lakota: čhaŋwíyapeha iyúwi,


Vitis riparia is a perennial viny shrub with stem growing to 25 m in length. The young branches are green to a dull reddish brown and the older stems are woody with exfoliating bark. The simple, alternate leaves have smooth petioles up to 8 cm long. The blades are 7-20 cm long and nearly as wide, shallowly to deeply palmately lobed. Leaves on fertile branches usually have 3 major lobes with a broad gaps between the 2 basal lobes. The leaves on vegetative branches are more evenly divided. The margins are hairy and sharply toothed. The inflorescence consist of pyramidal panicles 4-12 cm long, opposite the leaves of this year's new branches. The plants are monoecious, separate male and female flowers are typically on the same plant, mixed in a cluster or separate, tiny with 5 green to yellowish petals that drop without expanding. The male flowers have 5 long, erect to ascending stamens. The female flowers have a short style and 5 short sterile contorted stamens. The fruit are purple black berries, 7-11 mm in diameter. Riverbank grapes bloom in May and June with fruit ripening in July through September. They are found along streams, fence rows, in woodlands and ravines throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Riverbank grapes are aggressive climbers that produce copious amounts of edible fruits used for juice, jellies and wines. The flowers provide food for bees and butterflies, the leaves host butterfly larvae and the fruits attract birds. They make a great covering for fences and trellises.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect ripe fruit and separate seeds from the pulp.

Germination: The seeds are best sown in the fall. They need a 90-120-day cold moist stratification for spring planting. Pour boiling water over them and let soak for 24 h before planting or stratification.

Vegetative propagation: Make cuttings of dormant 1st year stems in early spring. Bury 3 nodes and leave the top exposed. They will root if kept moist.

Light: Full sun to partial shade. Grape production is enhanced by sunlight.

Soils: Organically rich well drained soils, sandy to clays.

Water: Mesic to moist.

Vitaceae : Vitis riparia