Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Plant Profile: Vitis californica ‘Roger’s Red’

Vitis californica ‘Roger’s Red’ is a fast growing native grape vine discovered by Roger Raiche.  Although previously considered a cultivar this plant is now considered to be a natural occurring hybrid between the native Vitis californica and the European wine grape Vitis vinifera.

Like its European counter-parts this grape vine is a vigorous climber (spreader) and can meander up a trellis quickly creating a screen to hide a bare wall or fence. This plant has large green oval shaped leaves, tendrils, and produces edible clusters of small grapes in late summer. The fruit is seedy, but makes a tasty juice and is a great habitat plant for birds! This Vitis is also adaptable to a variety of soil and watering regimes as well as sun/shade micro-climate exposures. Just make sure you have plenty of space as it can easily spread to 30+ feet.

Vitis californica ‘Roger’s Red’ is my choice for planting in narrow beds next to walls and fences. Couple with a rock, a Rush and/or riparian variety of California native bunch grass for an interesting plant grouping. The aforementioned attributes, combined with it’s cool, flaky cinnamon colored bark, and the fact you can make jelly, juice and even wine from the fruit makes this Vitis a perfect addition to the California native garden!