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California Grape
Vitis californica

About California Grape (Vitis californica) Vitis californica, or California Wild Grape, is a species of wild grape that grows throughout central and northern California, and occasionally in southern California. Specifically, it grows as far south as the foothills of the Transverse Range, over the entire range of Sequoia and Cascade Foothills, occasionally in the San Joaquin Valley, and throughout the Sacramento Valley, North Coast Range and Klamath Range, and into southern Oregon. It is a deciduous vine which can grow to over 10 meters (30 feet) in length. It climbs on other plants or covers the ground with twisted, woody ropes of vine covered in green leaves. In the fall the leaves turn many shades of orange and yellow, and bunches of small and often sour but edible purple grapes hang from the vines. It is a common sight along the banks of the Sacramento River. The California wild grape grows along streams and rivers and thrives in damp areas; however, like most other native California plants it can withstand periods of dry conditions. The grapes provide an important food source for a variety of wild animals, especially birds, and the foliage provides thick cover. Bees love the flowers, and it is one of the best plants for butterflies in fall.

California Wild Grape is extremely fast growing and easy to grow. It's easy to train into an arbor, or windbreak along a fence, or pretty much any shape you want. If it has nowhere to climb, it makes a nice, though winter deciduous, groundcover.

Though this plant naturally grows in moister areas, it is surprisingly drought tolerant once established. It puts down deep roots and in most of its native range needs little or no incremental irrigation once it is established, though it will tolerate as much irrigation as you want to give it. More water makes it larger and lusher (not necessarily a good thing). It prefers to have its leaves in full sun, and will stretch up through the trees to get to it. It prefers heavier soils.
The downside of this plant is that it can be extremely aggressive, and may require continuous pruning to keep under control. While it can be invasive, it's easy to pull out. Also, it is winter deciduous, and its abundant dead leaves can be a problem in a tidy garden.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Vine

Max. Height
10 - 40 ft (3 - 12.2 m)

Max. Width
1 ft (0.3 m)

Upright Columnar

None, Slight

Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Large, bright green, rounded.

Flower Color
Cream, Green, Yellow

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Usually found in wetland-riparian areas, such as streamsides, springs and seep. Often adjacent to forest or woodland habitat, such as evergreen forest or foothill woodland

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-10' - 10807'

Annual Precip. ?
3.8" - 107.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 3.80"

Coldest Month ?
26.5° F - 54.5° F

Hottest Month ?
48.2° F - 82.1° F

Humidity ?
0.18 vpd - 34.56 vpd

Soil Description
Heavier soils

Soil Texture
Clay, Clay Loam, Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Clay, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam, Silt, Silt Clay Loam, Silt Loam

Soil PH
5 - 8

Fast, Medium, Slow, Standing

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20 - 25° F

Sunset Zones ?
4, 5, 6*, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Western Sycamore, Toyon, Coast Live Oaks

Wildlife Attracted
many species of birds and small mammals

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month, 2x/month, 3x/month, 1/week, Keep moist
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Can handle hard pruning. This plant is very aggressive, and may require regular pruning to keep under control. It can also be trained and woven into a variety of shapes and purposes.

Pest Control
Grape White Fly is a common but not particular damaging pest

Common uses
Groundcovers, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
California Wild Grape

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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