''Vitis'' (grapevines) is a genus of 79 accepted species of vining plants in the
flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...

flowering plant
Vitaceae The Vitaceae are a family of flowering plants, with 14 genera and around 910 known species, including common plants such as Vitis, grapevines (''Vitis'' spp.) and Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia creeper (''Parthenocissus quinquefolia''). The ...
. The genus is made up of species predominantly from the Northern hemisphere. It is economically important as the source of
grape A grape is a fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in ...

s, both for direct consumption of the fruit and for fermentation to produce
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different v ...

. The study and cultivation of grapevines is called
viticulture Viticulture (from the Latin word for ''vine'') or winegrowing (wine growing) is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of ''Vitis vinifera'', the common grape vine, rang ...

. Most ''Vitis'' varieties are
wind-pollinated Anemophily or wind pollination is a form of pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen Pollen Tube Diagram Pollen is a powdery substance consisting of pollen grains which are male microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce mal ...
hermaphroditic In reproductive biology, a hermaphrodite () is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life ...
flowers containing both male and female reproductive structures. These flowers are grouped in bunches called
inflorescence An inflorescence is a group or cluster of s arranged on a that is composed of a main or a complicated arrangement of branches. , it is the modified part of the of where s are formed. The modifications can involve the length and the nature ...
s. In many species, such as ''Vitis vinifera'', each successfully pollinated flower becomes a grape berry with the inflorescence turning into a cluster of grapes. While the flowers of the grapevines are usually very small, the berries are often large and brightly colored with sweet flavors that attract birds and other animals to disperse the seeds contained within the berries.Wine & Spirits Education Trust ''"Wine and Spirits: Understanding Wine Quality"'' pgs 2-5, Second Revised Edition (2012), London, Grapevines usually only produce fruit on shoots that came from buds that were developed during the previous
growing season A season is a division of the year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and the amount of daylight. The growing season is that portion of the year in which local conditions (i.e. rainfall, temperature, daylight) permit normal plant morphology#Grow ...
. In viticulture, this is one of the principles behind
pruning Pruning is a horticultural Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, as well ...

the previous year's growth (or "One year old wood") that includes shoots that have turned hard and woody during the winter (after
harvest Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an ...
in commercial viticulture). These vines will be pruned either into a
cane Cane or caning may refer to: *Walking stick or walking cane, a device used primarily to aid walking *Assistive cane, a walking stick used as a mobility aid for better balance *White cane, a mobility or safety device used by many people who are bl ...
which will support 8 to 15 buds or to a smaller
spur A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boot A riding boot is a boot made to be used for horse riding. The classic boot comes high enough up the leg to prevent the leathers of the saddle The saddle ...
which holds 2 to 3 buds.


Flower buds are formed late in the growing season and overwinter for blooming in spring of the next year. They produce leaf-opposed
cymes An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a Plant stem, stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Morphology (biology), Morphologically, it is the modified part of the shoot of spermat ...
. ''Vitis'' is distinguished from other genera of Vitaceae by having petals which remain joined at the tip and detach from the base to fall together as a calyptra or 'cap'. The
flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plants with a similar appearance that flower prof ...

s are mostly bisexual, pentamerous, with a
hypogynous 300px, Longitudinal section of female flower of squash showing pistil (=ovary+style+stigma), ovules, and petals. The petals and sepals are above the ovary; such a flower is said to have an inferior ovary, or the flower is said to be epigynous. I ...
disk. The calyx is greatly reduced or nonexistent in most species and the petals are joined together at the tip into one unit but separated at the base. The
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

is a
berry A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who speci ...
, ovoid in shape and juicy, with a two-celled ovary each containing two ovules, thus normally producing four seeds per flower (or fewer by way of aborted embryos). Other parts of the vine include the
tendril upA curling tendril In botany, a tendril is a specialized Plant stem, stem, leaf or Petiole (botany), petiole with a threadlike shape used by climbing plants for support and attachment, as well as cellular invasion by parasitic plants such as '' ...

s which are leaf-opposed, branched in ''Vitis vinifera'', and are used to support the climbing plant by twining onto surrounding structures such as branches or the
trellising A trellis (treillage) is an architectural structure, usually made from an open framework or Latticework, lattice of interwoven or intersecting pieces of wood, bamboo or metal that is normally made to support and display climbing plants, especially ...
of a vine-training system. In the wild, all species of ''Vitis'' are normally plant sexuality, dioecious, but under domestication, variants with perfect flowers appear to have been selected. The genus ''Vitis'' is divided into two subgenera ''Euvitis'' Planch. have 38 chromosomes (n=19) with berries borne on clusters and ''Muscadinia'' Planch. 40 (n=20) with small clusters.


Most ''Vitis'' species are found mostly in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in North America and eastern Asia, exceptions being a few in the tropics and the wine grape ''Vitis vinifera'' which originated in southern Europe and southwestern Asia. Grape species occur in widely different geographical areas and show a great diversity of form. Their growth makes leaf collection challenging and polymorphic leaves make identification of species difficult. Mature grapevines can grow up to in diameter at breast height and reach the upper canopy of trees more than in height. Many species are sufficiently closely related to allow easy interbreeding and the resultant interspecific hybrids are invariably fertile and vigorous. Thus the concept of a species is less well defined and more likely represents the identification of different ecotypes of ''Vitis'' that have evolved in distinct geographical and environmental circumstances. The exact number of species is not certain, with more than 65 species in Asia in particular being poorly defined. Approximately 25 species are known in North America and just one, ''Vitis vinifera'' has Eurasian origins; some of the more notable include: #''Vitis aestivalis'', the summer grape, native to the Eastern United States, especially the Southeastern United States. #''Vitis amurensis'', native to the Asian continent, including parts of Siberia and China. #''Vitis arizonica'', The Arizona grape is native to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Northern Mexico. #''Vitis berlandieri'', native to the southern North America, primarily Texas, New Mexico and Arkansas. Primarily known for good tolerance against soils with a high content of lime, which can cause chlorosis in many vines of American origin. #''Vitis californica'', the California wild grape, or Northern California grape, or Pacific grape, is a wild grape species widespread across much of California as well as southwestern Oregon. #''Vitis coignetiae'', the crimson glory vine, a species from East Asia grown as an ornamental plant for its crimson autumn foliage. # ''Vitis labrusca'' L., the fox grapevine, sometimes used for winemaking and for jam. Native to the Eastern United States and Canada. The Concord grape is a common cultivar. #''Vitis riparia'', the riverbank grapevine, sometimes used for winemaking and for jam. Native to the entire Eastern U.S. and north to Quebec. #''Vitis rotundifolia'' (syn. ''Muscadinia rotundifolia''), the muscadine, used for jams and wine. Native to the Southeastern United States from Delaware to the Gulf of Mexico. #''Vitis rupestris'', the rock grapevine, used for breeding of Phylloxera resistant rootstock. Native to the Southern United States. #''Vitis vinifera'', the European grapevine. Native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. #''Vitis vulpina'', the frost grape, native to the Eastern United States, from Massachusetts to Florida, and west to Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas. Treated by some as a Synonym (taxonomy), synonym of ''V. riparia''. ''Plants of the World Online'' also includes:Plants of the World Online: ''Vitis'' (retrieved 24 December 2021)
/ref> # ''Vitis acerifolia'' Raf. # ''Vitis aestivalis'' Michx. # ''Vitis baihuashanensis'' M.S.Kang & D.Z.Lu # ''Vitis balansana'' Planch. # ''Vitis bashanica'' P.C.He # ''Vitis bellula'' (Rehder) W.T.Wang # ''Vitis betulifolia'' Diels & Gilg # ''Vitis biformis'' Rose # ''Vitis blancoi'' Munson # ''Vitis bloodworthiana'' Comeaux # ''Vitis bourgaeana'' Planch. # ''Vitis bryoniifolia'' Bunge # ''Vitis californica'' Benth. # ''Vitis × champinii'' Planch. # ''Vitis chunganensis'' Hu # ''Vitis chungii'' F.P.Metcalf # ''Vitis cinerea'' (Engelm.) Millardet # ''Vitis coignetiae'' Pulliat ex Planch. # ''Vitis davidi'' (Rom.Caill.) Foëx # ''Vitis × doaniana'' Munson ex Viala # ''Vitis erythrophylla'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis fengqinensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis ficifolia'' Bunge # ''Vitis flavicosta'' Mickel & Beitel # ''Vitis flexuosa'' Thunb. # ''Vitis giradiana'' Munson # ''Vitis hancockii'' Hance # ''Vitis heyneana'' Schult. # ''Vitis hissarica'' Vassilcz. # ''Vitis hui'' W.C.Cheng # ''Vitis jaegeriana'' Comeaux # ''Vitis jinggangensis'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis jinzhainensis'' X.S.Shen # ''Vitis kiusiana'' Momiy. # ''Vitis lanceolatifoliosa'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis longquanensis'' P.L.Chiu # ''Vitis luochengensis'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis menghaiensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis mengziensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis metziana'' Miq. # ''Vitis monticola'' Buckley # ''Vitis mustangensis'' Buckley # ''Vitis nesbittiana'' Comeaux # ''Vitis × novae-angliae'' Fernald # ''Vitis novogranatensis'' Moldenke # ''Vitis nuristanica'' Vassilcz. # ''Vitis palmata'' Vahl # ''Vitis pedicellata'' M.A.Lawson # ''Vitis peninsularis'' M.E.Jones # ''Vitis piasezkii'' Maxim. # ''Vitis pilosonervia'' F.P.Metcalf # ''Vitis popenoei'' J.L.Fennell # ''Vitis pseudoreticulata'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis qinlingensis'' P.C.He # ''Vitis retordii'' Rom.Caill. ex Planch. # ''Vitis romanetii'' Rom.Caill. # ''Vitis ruyuanensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis saccharifera'' Makino # ''Vitis shenxiensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis shuttleworthii'' House # ''Vitis silvestrii'' Pamp. # ''Vitis sinocinerea'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis sinoternata'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis tiliifolia'' Humb. & Bonpl. ex Schult. # ''Vitis tsoi'' Merr. # ''Vitis wenchowensis'' C.Ling # ''Vitis wenxianensis'' W.T.Wang # ''Vitis wilsoniae'' H.J.Veitch # ''Vitis wuhanensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis xunyangensis'' P.C.He # ''Vitis yunnanensis'' C.L.Li # ''Vitis zhejiang-adstricta'' P.L.Chiu There are many List of grape varieties, cultivars of grapevines; most are cultivars of ''V. vinifera''. One of them includes, Vitis 'Ornamental Grape'. Hybrid (biology), Hybrid grapes also exist, and these are primarily crosses between ''V. vinifera'' and one or more of ''V. labrusca'', ''V. riparia'' or ''V. aestivalis''. Hybrids tend to be less susceptible to frost and disease (notably phylloxera), but wine from some hybrids may have a little of the characteristic "foxy" taste of ''V. labrusca''. The Latin word ''Vitis'' has feminine grammatical gender, and therefore species names with adjective, adjectival Botanical name, specific epithets take feminine forms, such as ''V. vinifera''.


The fruit of several ''Vitis'' species are grown commercially for consumption as fresh
grape A grape is a fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in ...

s and for fermentation into
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different v ...

. ''Vitis vinifera'' is the most important such species. The Grape leaves, leaves of several species of grapevine are edible and are used in the production of dolmades and Vietnamese lot leaf, lot leaves.

Commercial distribution

According to the "Food and Agriculture Organization" (FAO), 75,866 square kilometres of the world is dedicated to grapes. Approximately 71% of world grape production is used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit, and 2% as dried fruit. A portion of grape production goes to producing grape juice to be used as a sweetener for fruits canned "with no added sugar" and "100% natural". The area dedicated to vineyards is increasing by about 2% per year. The following list of top wine-producers shows the corresponding areas dedicated to grapes (regardless of the grapes’ final destination):

Domestic cultivation

Grapevines are widely cultivated by gardeners, and numerous suppliers cater specifically for this trade. The plants are valued for their decorative foliage, often colouring brightly in autumn; their ability to clothe walls, pergolas and arches, thus providing shade; and their fruits, which may be eaten as dessert or provide the basis for homemade wines. Popular varieties include:- *Buckland Sweetwater' (white dessert) *'Chardonnay' (white wine) *'Foster's Seedling' (white dessert) *'Muscat of Alexandria' (white dessert) *'Müller-Thurgau' (white wine) *'Phoenix (grape), Phoenix' (white wine) *'Pinot noir' (red wine) *'Regent (grape), Regent' (red wine) *'Schiava Grossa' (red dessert) *'Seyval blanc' (white wine) The following varieties have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:- *'Boskoop Glory' (dessert/wine) *'Brant' (black dessert) *'Claret Cloak' or 'Frovit' (ornamental) *'New York Muscat' (black dessert) *'Purpurea' (ornamental)

Pests and diseases

Phylloxera is an American root aphid that devastated ''V. vinifera'' vineyards in Europe when accidentally introduced in the late 19th century. Attempts were made to breed in resistance from American species, but many winemakers didn't like the unusual flavour profile of the hybrid grape, hybrid vines. However, ''V. vinifera'' grafts readily onto rootstocks of the American species and their hybrids with ''V. vinifera'', and most commercial production of grapes now relies on such grafts. The black vine weevil is another root pest. Grapevines are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera that feed on grapevines''


The grapevine (typically ''Vitis vinifera'') has been used as a symbol since ancient times. In Greek mythology, Dionysus (called Bacchus by the Ancient Romans, Romans) was god of the vintage and, therefore, a grapevine with bunches of the fruit are among his attributes. His attendants at the Bacchanalian festivals hence had the vine as an attribute, together with the thyrsus, the latter often entwined with vine branches. For the same reason, the Greek wine cup (cantharos) is commonly decorated with the vine and grapes, wine being drunk as a libation to the god. In Christianity, Christian iconography, the vine also frequently appears. It is mentioned several times in the New Testament. We have the parable of the kingdom of heaven likened to the father starting to engage laborers for his vineyard. The vine is used as symbol of Jesus Christ based on his own statement, “I am the true vine (John 15:1).” In that sense, a vine is placed as sole symbol on the tomb of Flavia Julia Constantia, Constantia, the sister of Constantine the Great, and elsewhere. In Byzantine art, the vine and grapes figure in early mosaics, and on the throne of Maximianus of Ravenna it is used as a decoration. The vine as symbol of the chosen people is employed several times in the Old Testament. The vine and wheat Ear (botany), ear have been frequently used as symbol of the blood and flesh of Christ, hence figuring as symbols (bread and wine) of the Eucharist and are found depicted on Ostensory, ostensories. Often the symbolic vine laden with grapes is found in ecclesiastical decorations with animals biting at the grapes. At times, the vine is used as symbol of temporal blessing.

See also

*Vine staff *Annual growth cycle of grapevines *Old vine





Further reading

* *

External links

* *
List of 48 descriptors
defined in the GRAPEGEN06 project (selected from the 151 Office International de la Vigne et du Vin, OIV descriptors published in June 2007) {{Authority control Vitis, Vitaceae genera Vines Viticulture, . Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus