Vitis (grapevine) is a genus of 79 accepted species[6] of vining plants in the flowering plant family Vitaceae. The genus is made up of species predominantly from the Northern Hemisphere. It is economically important as the source of grapes, both for direct consumption of the fruit and for fermentation to produce wine. The study and cultivation of grapevines is called viticulture.

Temporal range: Paleocene[1]- Recent
Vitis californica with fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Vitales
Family: Vitaceae
Subfamily: Vitoideae
Genus: Vitis
Type species
Vitis vinifera
  • V. acerifolia
    V. adenoclada
    V. aestivalis
    V. amazonica
    V. amurensis
    V. × andersonii
    V. arizonica
    V. baileyana
    V. balansana
    V. bashanica
    V. bellula
    V. berlandieri
    V. betulifolia
    V. biformis
    V. blancoi
    V. bloodworthiana
    V. bourgaeana
    V. bryoniifolia
    V. californica
    V. × champinii
    V. chontalensis
    V. chunganensis
    V. chungii
    V. cinerea
    V. cissoides
    V. coignetiae
    V. cordifolia
    V. davidii
    V. × doaniana
    V. erythrophylla
    V. fengqinensis
    V. figariana
    V. flexuosa
    V. girdiana
    V. hancockii
    V. heyneana
    V. hui
    V. jacquemontii
    V. jaegeriana
    V. jinggangensis
    V. jinzhainensis
    V. kelungensis
    V. labrusca
    V. labruscana
    V. lanceolatifoliosa
    V. linsecomii
    V. longquanensis
    V. luochengensis
    V. menghaiensis
    V. mengziensis
    V. monticola
    V. mustangensis
    V. nesbittiana
    V. × novae-angliae
    V. palmata
    V. peninsularis
    V. piasezkii
    V. pilosonerva
    V. popenoei
    V. pseudoreticulata
    V. pubescens
    V. retordii
    V. riparia
    V. romanetii
    V. rotundifolia
    V. rupestris
    V. ruyuanensis
    V. shenxiensis
    V. shuttleworthii
    V. silvestrii
    V. sinocinerea
    V. × slavinii
    V. thunbergii
    V. tiliifolia
    V. treleasei
    V. tsoii
    V. vinifera
    V. vulpina
    V. wenchouensis
    V. wilsonae
    V. wuhanensis
    V. xunyangensis
    V. yeshanensis
    V. yunnanensis
    V. zhejiang-adstricta

Most cultivated Vitis varieties are wind-pollinated with hermaphroditic flowers containing both male and female reproductive structures, while wild species are dieceous. These flowers are grouped in bunches called inflorescences. 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.[7]

Grapevines usually only produce fruit on shoots that came from buds that were developed during the previous growing season. In viticulture, this is one of the principles behind pruning the previous year's growth (or "One year old wood") that includes shoots that have turned hard and woody during the winter (after harvest in commercial viticulture). These vines will be pruned either into a cane which will support 8 to 15 buds or to a smaller spur which holds 2 to 3 buds.[7]


Developing inflorescences of Vitis vinifera

Flower buds are formed late in the growing season and overwinter for blooming in spring of the next year. They produce leaf-opposed cymes. 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 flowers are mostly bisexual,[8]:143 pentamerous, with a hypogynous 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 is a berry, 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).[9]

Other parts of the vine include the tendrils 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 of a vine-training system.

In the wild, all species of Vitis are normally 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[10] and Muscadinia Planch. 40 (n=20) with small clusters.[11][12]

Wild grapes can resemble the single-seeded Menispermum canadense (moonseed), which is toxic.[13]


Vitis coignetiae with autumn leaves

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 48 centimetres (19 inches) in diameter at breast height and reach the upper canopy of trees more than 35 metres (115 feet) in height.[14]

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.[15] Approximately 25 species are known in North America and just one, V. vinifera has Eurasian origins;[16] some of the more notable include:

  1. Vitis aestivalis, the summer grape, native to the Eastern United States, especially the Southeastern United States
  2. Vitis amurensis, native to the Asian continent, including parts of Siberia and China
  3. Vitis arizonica, The Arizona grape is native to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Northern Mexico.[17]
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Vitis coignetiae, the crimson glory vine, a species from East Asia grown as an ornamental plant for its crimson autumn foliage
  7. Vitis labrusca L., the fox grapevine, sometimes used for winemaking and for jam. Native to the Eastern United States and Canada. The Concord grape was derived by a cross with this species
  8. Vitis riparia, the riverbank grapevine, sometimes used for winemaking and for jam. Native to the entire Eastern United States and north to Quebec
  9. 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
  10. Vitis rupestris, the rock grapevine, used for breeding of Phylloxera resistant rootstock. Native to the Southern United States
  11. Vitis vinifera, the European grapevine. Native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
  12. Vitis vulpina, the frost grape, native to the Eastern United States, from Massachusetts to Florida, and west to Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas[18] Treated by some as a synonym of V. riparia.[19]

Plants of the World Online also includes:[20]

  1. Vitis acerifolia Raf.
  2. Vitis aestivalis Michx.
  3. Vitis baihuashanensis M.S.Kang & D.Z.Lu
  4. Vitis balansana Planch.
  5. Vitis bashanica P.C.He
  6. Vitis bellula (Rehder) W.T.Wang
  7. Vitis betulifolia Diels & Gilg
  8. Vitis biformis Rose
  9. Vitis blancoi Munson
  10. Vitis bloodworthiana Comeaux
  11. Vitis bourgaeana Planch.
  12. Vitis bryoniifolia Bunge
  13. Vitis californica Benth.
  14. Vitis × champinii Planch.
  15. Vitis chunganensis Hu
  16. Vitis chungii F.P.Metcalf
  17. Vitis cinerea (Engelm.) Millardet
  18. Vitis coignetiae Pulliat ex Planch.
  19. Vitis davidi (Rom.Caill.) Foëx
  20. Vitis × doaniana Munson ex Viala
  21. Vitis erythrophylla W.T.Wang
  22. Vitis fengqinensis C.L.Li
  23. Vitis ficifolia Bunge
  24. Vitis flavicosta Mickel & Beitel
  25. Vitis flexuosa Thunb.
  26. Vitis girdiana Munson
  27. Vitis hancockii Hance
  28. Vitis heyneana Schult.
  29. Vitis hissarica Vassilcz.
  30. Vitis hui W.C.Cheng
  31. Vitis jaegeriana Comeaux
  32. Vitis jinggangensis W.T.Wang
  33. Vitis jinzhainensis X.S.Shen
  34. Vitis kiusiana Momiy.
  35. Vitis lanceolatifoliosa C.L.Li
  36. Vitis longquanensis P.L.Chiu
  37. Vitis luochengensis W.T.Wang
  38. Vitis menghaiensis C.L.Li
  39. Vitis mengziensis C.L.Li
  40. Vitis metziana Miq.
  41. Vitis monticola Buckley
  42. Vitis mustangensis Buckley
  43. Vitis nesbittiana Comeaux
  44. Vitis × novae-angliae Fernald
  45. Vitis novogranatensis Moldenke
  46. Vitis nuristanica Vassilcz.
  47. Vitis palmata Vahl
  48. Vitis pedicellata M.A.Lawson
  49. Vitis peninsularis M.E.Jones
  50. Vitis piasezkii Maxim.
  51. Vitis pilosonervia F.P.Metcalf
  52. Vitis popenoei J.L.Fennell
  53. Vitis pseudoreticulata W.T.Wang
  54. Vitis qinlingensis P.C.He
  55. Vitis retordii Rom.Caill. ex Planch.
  56. Vitis romanetii Rom.Caill.
  57. Vitis ruyuanensis C.L.Li
  58. Vitis saccharifera Makino
  59. Vitis shenxiensis C.L.Li
  60. Vitis shuttleworthii House
  61. Vitis silvestrii Pamp.
  62. Vitis sinocinerea W.T.Wang
  63. Vitis sinoternata W.T.Wang
  64. Vitis tiliifolia Humb. & Bonpl. ex Schult.
  65. Vitis tsoi Merr.
  66. Vitis wenchowensis C.Ling
  67. Vitis wenxianensis W.T.Wang
  68. Vitis wilsoniae H.J.Veitch
  69. Vitis wuhanensis C.L.Li
  70. Vitis xunyangensis P.C.He
  71. Vitis yunnanensis C.L.Li
  72. Vitis zhejiang-adstricta P.L.Chiu

There are many cultivars of grapevines; most are cultivars of V. vinifera. One of them includes, Vitis 'Ornamental Grape'.

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 is feminine,[21] and therefore adjectival species names take feminine forms, such as V. vinifera.[22][lower-alpha 1]


'Palatina', a Hungary grape

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 did not like the unusual flavour profile of the 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.

Commercial distribution

Vitis for producing Sherry at Jerez.
Vitis near a house in Hontecillas.

According to the UN's 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):[24]

Country Area under vine (ha x103) Grape production (metric ton x106)
 World 7511 75.7
 Spain 1021 6.0
 China 830 12.6
 France 786 6.3
 Italy 682 8.2
 Turkey 497 3.6
 United States 419 7.0
 Argentina 225 2.4
 Iran 223 2.1
 Portugal 217
 Chile 211 3.1
 Romania 192
 Australia 149 1.7
 Moldova 140
 South Africa 130 2.0
 India 120 2.6
 Brazil 85 1.5
 Bulgaria 60
 New Zealand 39

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' (white wine)
  • 'Pinot noir' (red wine)
  • 'Regent' (red wine)
  • 'Schiava Grossa' (red dessert)
  • 'Seyval blanc' (white wine)[25]

The following varieties have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-[26]

  • 'Boskoop Glory'[27] (dessert/wine)
  • 'Brant'[28] (black dessert)
  • 'Claret Cloak' or 'Frovit'[29] (ornamental)
  • 'New York Muscat'[30] (black dessert)
  • 'Purpurea'[31] (ornamental)


The fruit of several Vitis species are grown commercially for consumption as fresh grapes and for fermentation into wine.[32] Vitis vinifera is the most important such species.[33]

The leaves of several species of grapevine are edible and are used in the production of dolmades and Vietnamese lot leaves.[34]


The grapevine (typically Vitis vinifera) has been used as a symbol since ancient times. In Greek mythology, Dionysus (called Bacchus by the 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.

The grapevine has a profound symbolic meaning in Jewish tradition and culture since antiquity.[35] It is referenced 55 times in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), along with grapes and wine, which are also frequently mentioned (55 and 19, respectively).[36] It is regarded as one of the Seven Species,[37][36] and is employed several times in the Bible as a symbol of the Israelites as the chosen people.[38] The grapevine has a prominent place in Jewish rituals: the wine was given a special blessing, "creator of the fruit of the vine", and the Kiddush blessing is recited over wine or grape juice on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.[36] It is also employed in various parables and sayings in rabbinic literature.[36] According to Josephus and the Mishnah, a golden vine was hung over the inner chamber of the Second Temple. The grapevine is featured on Hasmonean and Bar Kokhba revolt coinage, and as a decoration in mosaic floors of ancient synagogues.[35]

In 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 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 and wheat 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 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.[39]

In Mandaeism, uthras (angels or celestial beings) are often described as personified grapevines (gupna).[40]

See also



  1. -fer is an adjectival suffix, with forms -fer (M), -fera (F), and -ferum (N).[23]


  1. Roland Wilbur Brown. Paleocene Flora of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains.
  2. USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Vitis L.". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  3. GRIN. "Species in GRIN for genus Vitis". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  4.  V. kelungensis, V. yeshanensis Ahmet Güner; Gábor Gyulai; Zoltán Tóth; Gülsüm Asena Başlı; Zoltán Szabó; Ferenc Gyulai; András Bittsánszky; Luther Waters Jr.; László Heszky (2008). "Grape (Vitis vinifera) seeds from Antiquity and the Middle Ages Excavated in Hungary - LM and SEM analysis" (PDF). Anadolu Univ J Sci Technol. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  5. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  6. "The Plant List: Vitis". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2013.
  7. Wine & Spirits Education Trust "Wine and Spirits: Understanding Wine Quality" pgs 2-5, Second Revised Edition (2012), London, ISBN 9781905819157
  8. Stace, C. A. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521707725.
  9. Gleason and Cronquist volume 2, New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, p. 517. LCCN 63-16478
  10. Bennett, M.D.; Leitch, I.J. (2012). "Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Plant DNA C-values database, release 6.0". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Archived from the original on 2016-03-19. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  11. "Vitis rotundifolia Muscadine Grape, Scuppernong". Plant of the Week: Vitis rotundifolia Muscadine Grape, Scuppernong. University of Arkansas. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  12. Lu, Jiang; Lamikanra, Olusola (1996). "Barriers to Intersubgeneric Crosses between Muscadinia and Euvitis". HortScience. American Society for Horticultural Science. 31 (2): 269–271. doi:10.21273/hortsci.31.2.269. ISSN 0018-5345.
  13. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants. United States Department of the Army. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. 2009. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-60239-692-0. OCLC 277203364.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. Everhart SE (2010). "Upper Canopy Collection and Identification of Grapevines (Vitis) from Selected Forests in the Southeastern United States". Castanea (From University of Nebraska Digital Commons). 75 (1): 141–149.
  15. Galet, Pierre (2000). Dictionnaire encyclopédique des cépages. Hachette Pratique. ISBN 2-01-236331-8.
  16. "Distribution of the world's grapevine varieties" (PDF). Paris: OIV - International Organization of Vine and Wine. 2017. ISBN 979-10-91799-89-8.
  17. "SEINet Portal Network - Vitis arizonica".
  18. USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Vitis vulpina L.". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  19. Jain, E.; Bairoch, A.; Duvaud, S.; Phan, I.; Redaschi, N.; Suzek, B.E.; Martin, M.J.; McGarvey, P.; Gasteiger, E. (November 3, 2009). "Vitis riparia (Frost grape) (Vitis vulpina)". The Universal Protein Resource (UniProt). The UniProt Consortium. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  20. Plants of the World Online: Vitis (retrieved 24 December 2021)
  21. Lewis, C.T.; Short, C. (1958), A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  22. McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012), International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011, vol. Regnum Vegetabile 154, A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG, ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6 Article 23.5
  23. Stearn, W.T. (1992), Botanical Latin: History, grammar, syntax, terminology and vocabulary, Fourth edition, David and Charles
  24. "OIV Statistical Report on World Vitiviniculture 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  25. Klein, Carol (2009). Grow your own fruit. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845334345.
  26. "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 107. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  27. "Vitis 'Boskoop Glory'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  28. "RHS Plant Selector - Vitis 'Brant '". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  29. "Vitis Claret Cloak = 'Frovit'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  30. "RHS Plant Selector - Vitis 'New York Muscat'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  31. "RHS Plant Selector - Vitis 'Purpurea'". Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  32. Frenkel, Omer; Brewer, Marin Talbot; Milgroom, Michael G. (2010). "Variation in Pathogenicity and Aggressiveness of Erysiphe necator from Different Vitis spp. and Geographic Origins in the Eastern United States". Phytopathology. 100 (11): 1185–1193. doi:10.1094/PHYTO-01-10-0023. ISSN 0031-949X. PMID 20932167.
  33. Brown, Kelly; Sims, Charles; Odabasi, Asli; Bartoshuk, Linda; Conner, Patrick; Gray, Dennis (2016). "Consumer Acceptability of Fresh-Market Muscadine Grapes". Journal of Food Science. 81 (11): S2808–S2816. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13522. ISSN 1750-3841. PMID 27741360. Nearly all table grapes that are sold in commercial markets are V. vinifera.
  34. Cosme, Fernanda; Pinto, Teresa; Vilela, Alice (2017). "Oenology in the Kitchen: The Sensory Experience Offered by Culinary Dishes Cooked with Alcoholic Drinks, Grapes and Grape Leaves". Beverages. 3 (4): 42. doi:10.3390/beverages3030042.
  35. Wulkan, Reba, "The Grape and the Vine: A Motif in Contemporary Jewish Textiles" (1998). Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings. 217.
  36. Netzer, Yishai; Netzer, Nissan (2021). "Hebrew Vine and Wine Terms from Ancient Times to the Present". Judea and Samaria Research Studies. 30 (1): 127–145. doi:10.26351/JSRS/30-1/5. ISSN 2617-8737. S2CID 241465067.
  37. Deuteronomy 8:8
  38. Isaiah 5:7, Hosea 9:10
  39. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Clement W. Coumbe (1920). "Vine in Art and Symbolism" . In Rines, George Edwin (ed.). Encyclopedia Americana.
  40. Gelbert, Carlos (2011). Ginza Rba. Sydney: Living Water Books. ISBN 9780958034630.

Further reading

  • Media related to Vitis at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Vitis at Wikispecies
  • List of 48 descriptors defined in the GRAPEGEN06 project (selected from the 151 OIV descriptors published in June 2007)
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