Summer Grape Tendril
Weybridge, VT, USA
Native to the eastern United States, the fruit of the summer grape is an important food source for dozens of species of songbirds before fall migration and black bears in preparation for winter hibernation. They are also consumed by squirrels, foxes, raccoons, opossum, coyotes, skunks, and turtles. The dense vines of the plant provide essential nesting habitat and shelter for many species of birds and small mammals. In the late 1800s, an aphid-like insect began ravaging the root systems of European grapes, destroying vineyards and threatening the destruction of the wine industry. It was found that new-world grapes such as the summer grape were resistant to the pest. Old world grape stock was grafted onto new world rootstock and famous varieties such as Cabernet and Chardonnay were saved from obsolescence.