Herb: Northern Fox Grape

Latin name: Vitis labrusca

Family: Vitaceae (Grape Family)

Medicinal use of Northern Fox Grape:

The leaves are hepatic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea, hepatitis, stomach aches, fevers, headaches and thrush. Externally, the leaves are poulticed and applied to sore breasts, rheumatic joints and headaches. The wilted leaves have been applied as a poultice to the breasts to draw away soreness after the birth of a child.

Description of the plant:


15 m
(49 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Wet or dry thickets and woodland borders.

Edible parts of Northern Fox Grape:

Fruit - raw or dried for winter use. The fruit can also be made into pies, preserves etc. A distinctive musky aroma and taste that is not acceptable to many people. The fruit is best after a frost. Sweetish, it contains 6.6 - 16.6% sugars. The fruit is up to 2cm in diameter and is produced in fairly large bunches. Young leaves - cooked. A pleasant acid flavour, they are cooked as greens or can be wrapped around other foods and then baked, when they impart a pleasant flavour. Young tendrils - raw or cooked. Sap. Best harvested in the spring or early summer, it has a sweet flavour and makes a pleasant drink. The sap should not be harvested in quantity or it will weaken the plant. An oil is obtained from the seed. This would only really be a viable crop if large quantities of grapes were being grown for wine.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellow dye is obtained from the fresh or dried leaves. The plant is used as a rootstock for the common grape, V. vinifera, especially in areas where phylloxera disease is prevalent.

Propagation of Northern Fox Grape:

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 the herb:

Wet or dry thickets and woodland borders.

Known hazards of Vitis labrusca:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.