Herb: California Grape

Latin name: Vitis californica

Family: Vitaceae (Grape Family)

Edible parts of California Grape:

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for winter use. It can also be made into jellies, pies etc. The fruit is quite juicy but is very small. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter, but it has a thin flesh and is of little value even in America for its fruit. Young leaves are wrapped around other foods and then baked, they impart a pleasant flavour. Young tendrils - raw or cooked. A pleasantly sour snack when eaten raw.

Description of the plant:


9 m
(30 feet)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Stream banks and canyons below 1200 metres.

Other uses of California Grape:

A yellow dye is obtained from the fresh or dried leaves. The roots have been used as a basketry material for basket bottoms. Woody parts of the vines have been used for the rims of large cone-shaped carrying baskets. Smaller vines have been twisted to make a strong rope.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Six weeks cold stratification improves the germination rate, and so stored seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is obtained. Germination should take place in the first spring, but sometimes takes another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in early summer. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, December/January in a frame. These cuttings can be of wood 15 - 30cm long or they can be of short sections of the stem about 5cm long with just one bud at the top of the section. In this case a thin, narrow strip of the bark about 3cm long is removed from the bottom half of the side of the stem. This will encourage callusing and the formation of roots. Due to the size of these cuttings they need to be kept in a more protected environment than the longer cuttings. Layering.

Cultivation of California Grape:

Stream banks and canyons below 1200 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Vitis californica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.