Ampelopsis cordata Michx.

Raccoon Grape

Ampelopsis cordata plant

Family - Vitaceae

Habit - Liana with tendrils, sometimes monoecious.

Stems - Climbing, with tight, non shredding bark. Pith continuous through nodes. Tendrils present opposite some, but not all, leaves.

Leaves - Alternate, toothed, unlobed or with two to four small lobes, glabrous, petiolate, truncate to cordate.

Ampelopsis cordata leaf surfaceAdaxial surface.

Ampelopsis cordata leaf surfaceAbaxial surface.

Inflorescence - Noticeably broader than long, horizontally branching.

Ampelopsis cordata inflorescenceInflorescence.

Flowers - Petals 5, free, 2.0-2.8 mm long, persistent and spreading at flowering, greenish yellow. Stamens 5. Nectar disc noticeable under magnification, about half as long as the ovary, cup-shaped, the basal portion fused to the ovary, the rim free, entire or irregularly scalloped. Style often very short, sometimes persistent at fruiting.

Ampelopsis cordata flowersFlowers.

Ampelopsis cordata flowerFlower showing nectar disk.

Fruits - Globose berries 7-10 mm in diameter, shiny at maturity, changing from green to pink or bluish gray and eventually to bluish or black.

Ampelopsis cordata fruitsFruits.

Flowering - May - July. Fruits ripening September - November.

Habitat - Wet areas, disturbed sites, low woods, thickets, railroads near woods.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species is common in most areas of Missouri. In appearance it is similar to the true grapes (genus Vitis), but can be distinguished by its inflorescences, which are branched and broader than long. True grapes produce elongated clusters of fruits.

The specific epithet arborea means "treelike," or, in this case, perhaps "with an affinity for trees." It can grow to the tops of very large trees, sometimes covering woodland borders with a huge kudzu-like mass. The grape-like fruits are a food source for wildlife but are not edible to humans.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 6-17-99 and 6-2-00, and along the Elk River, McDonald County, MO., 8-15-03 (DETenaglia); also along Riverfront Park, city of Washington, Franklin County, MO (SRTurner).