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!


  1. The fall colors on 'Roger's Red' is amazing. I had planted one next to our patio cover a couple years ago, not realizing how vigorous and wide-spreading it can be. I replanted it last year along the fence line at the front of our property, which extends for a good 100 feet. It not only survived the transplant, but is happily taking over the fence with new growth. Hopefully the birds and critters will leave us some fruit at the end of the season for jelly or jam.

  2. Our native grape grew much much faster than we expected too! It's fantastic: It makes an arbor against the west wall of our house. In the blazing Central Valley summer sun, it provides with shade that is degrees cooler. In the winter, since it is decidious, it lets the sun right in. We've just finished putting up our first ever batch of Vitis californica jelly- hope it turns out!