Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shining Grape

Tetrastigma nitens
Family: VITACEAE

This is said to be Australia’s tastiest native grape. It has a pleasant, sweet flavour, so long as it is very ripe before being picked. A little less ripe and it’s nasty.
A member of the grape family, it is a large and particularly beautiful vine, with its shiny leaves and bunches of bird-attracting autumn fruit.
It is suitable for growing on a sturdy trellis, where it quickly makes a dense evergreen screen, or on a large tree.


Its branches droop when they reach the ends of their supports, as shown in the photo above. This makes it a particularly attractive pergola specimen.


The new spring shoots make a delicate tracery of red and pale green. 


The fruits their relationship to our familiar shop-bought grapes, with their one or two large, grape-like seeds per fruit.


Some plants produce large bunches of grapes, and others have small bunches.


The fruits ripen sequentially, providing food for birds over a long period.

Like many grape species, this one is  polygamo-dioecious. This means that some flowers, on every plant, have both male and female parts, and some flowers are just one sex. The semi-female plants have more fruit than the semi-male ones. For those of us who grow our plants from seed, it’s a matter of luck what we get, but it should be possible to reliably produce good fruiting plants with cuttings from a good semi-female parent.
The ancestors of our modern cultivated grapes were probably plants with fruits of very similar quality to like this one. There is potential for developing commercially worthwhile fruit from this grape species, using modern plant-breeding methods.

This is a hardy plant, surviving the worst of our local droughts if it grows in a place where its roots are shaded and well mulched. The plants are frost tender.

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