One of about 30 American species or wild vines with the complete botanical name Vitis rotundifolia Michx. The French botanist André Michaux (1746-1802) is honoured in the name. It is the only species of the vine subgenus Muscadinia. It does not belong to the subgenus Vitis like the other American and Asian species, nor does the European Vitis vinifera. Strictly speaking, therefore, the name Muscadinia rotundifolia should be. However, since this (wrong) name is used in most sources, it is also mentioned in the wine lexicon. Trivial synonyms are Bird Grape, Bullace Grape, Bullit Grape, Currant Grape, Muscadine Grape, Roanoke, Southern Fox Grape and Vigne Musquée.
The species Muscadinia is divided into three varieties. The Vitis rotundifolia Michx. var. munsoniana is restricted to Florida. The Vitis rotundifolia Michx. var. rotundifolia populates the southeastern quarter of the USA from Indiana to Texas. It thrives best where the cotton also grows, in bushes, along rivers, in swamps, but also on sandy valley floors. And the Vitis rotundifolia Michx. var. popenoei with the trivial synonym Totoloche Grape thrives above all in subtropical and tropical climates. It is found in Central Mexico and some Central American countries such as Belize and Guatemala. The variety Popenoei was once considered a separate species. There are discussions about raising the subgenus Muscadinia to a genus, as well as replacing the current division into three varieties with the leadership of three species.
Since all Muscadinia varieties have a different set of chromosomes (2n = 40) than the species of the subgenus Vitis (2n = 38), a cross with all European vines, but also with the American species or varieties of the subgenus Vitis is very difficult to impossible. The nodes are without a diaphragm (septum), the tendrils are unbranched, the berries are dropped off individually at maturity. The thick-skinned, dark berries have a high content of polyphenols(anthocyanins and resveratrol). The berries or the wine made from them have a strawberry aroma and the foxton. Already in the 16th century Muscadinia grapes were used for the production of wines similar to port wine.
The enormous resistance to diseases and pests was recognized by Dr. Harold P. Olmo (1909-2006). This is especially true for fungal diseases and insects of all kinds. The grapevine has a complete resistance to phylloxera, nodosities and tuberosities, as well as nematodes (threadworms) and the vine disease Pierce Disease. Unfortunately, grafting is impossible because Vinifera cuttings are rejected by Rotundifolia rootstocks and do not grow together with them. A disadvantage is the low lime tolerance and lack of frost resistance. Today the vine is increasingly interesting as a crossbreeding partner. Resistance to Pierce Disease is particularly important in the climatically warm south of the USA. Therefore, more than 300 Muscadinia varieties of different berry colours are cultivated in these states.
New varieties with Vitis rotundifolia genes are Aurora (2), Carlos, Cowart, Dixieland, Doreen, Fry, Higgins, Hunt, Jumbo, Magnolia, Noble, Regalé and Scuppernong. See also under American Vines and Vine System.
Picture: Public domain, Link