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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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Tuesday - May 31, 2011

From: sonora, CA
Region: California
Topic: Vines
Title: No Grapes on Vines in Sonora, CA
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We have lived in our home since 2002 and have a grapevine that grows beautiful green lush leaves and vines every year but never has produced grapes. What can I do to get some grapes on this vine?

ANSWER:

You don't mention whether your grape is a native (wild) grape or a domesticated variety. Most natives of the genus Vitus are dioecious meaning the staminate (male) flowers and pistillate (female) flowers are borne on different plants. So, it is entirely possible that your plant is a male, which would explain the lack of grapes. Alternatively, your plant may be a female, but there aren't any males close enough by to provide the necessary fertilization.

A publication from the Universtiy of Wisconsin Extension Service says it is possible to determine if a grape plant is a male by closely examining the flowers and noting the abscence of the stigma, style and ovary. Here is a publication from the University of Illinois Extension service that has drawings showing the parts of a flower: Flower Parts.

During the thousands of years that people have been cultivating grapes, many of our domestic varieties have been selectively bred to have both male and female flowers on the same plant. This increases vineyard efficiency by eliminating all those unproductive males.

 

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