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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - September 10, 2009

From: Hilo, HI
Region: Hawaii
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native Concord grapes in Hilo, Hawaii
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, I live in a area that does not freeze over winter, and humidity is quite high. Do you think that Concord grapes will fruit?

ANSWER:

It's really hard to say, because we know of no experience with grapes in Hawaii, except to know they are not native to the islands. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the use, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The Concord grape itself is considered to be a cultivar of Vitis labrusca (fox grape), but there has also been a great deal of hybridizing with grapes of European origin. According to this USDA Plant Profile, the fox grape is grown in eastern and southeastern states in North America and, oddly, Utah. 

Backyard Grape Culture from Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County came about as close to non-cold environment for grapes as we could find. 

We found one website,  Home Tips website Growing Grapes, that mentions, more or less in passing, that grapes have even be developed that will grow in Alaska or Hawaii. For that reason, we suggest you contact nursery sources in your area to find out if they sell the cuttings of the vines and, if so, whether they will fruit. One thing to consider is that grapes are very susceptible to fungal diseases, and hot, humid summers will aggravate that problem. 

Pictures of Vitis labrusca (fox grape) from Google



 

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