Several varieties of wild grapes adorn our forest, the vines often reaching high into the trees, and sometimes growing as thick as a man's wrist, yet we seldom see the fruit. This has puzzled me somewhat, until I read a list of the creatures that feed on the grapes, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, quail, cardinal, cowbird, raccoon and red fox.
So this week, I was delighted to find a patch of ripe winter grapes just off our driveway among the cedars. I tasted one in anticipation. Though hardly a representative sample, the pulp was sweet, but the seeds and tough skin made me grateful that grapes have been domesticated. According to Don Kurz's book, Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri, wild grapes are used for fine jellies and wine, but winter grapes, which are the last to ripen, "are seldom used for jellies or juice because most people have forgotten about them by the time they are ready." And after eating just one, I would concur; I've already forgotten any whim I may have had of using them for any purpose. I'll be happy to leave them to the wild creatures.