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Vitis rotundifolia, or muscadine,[1] is a grapevine species native to the southeastern and south-central United States from Florida to Delaware, west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma.[2] It has been extensively cultivated since the 16th century.[3] The plants are well adapted to their native warm and humid climate; they need fewer chilling hours than better known varieties and they thrive on summer heat.

Vitis rotundifolia.jpg
Scientific classification
V. rotundifolia
Binomial name
Vitis rotundifolia

Muscadine berries may be bronze or dark purple or black when ripe.[4] However, many wild varieties stay green through maturity. Muscadines have skin sufficiently thick and tough that eating the raw fruit is similar to eating a plum and may be an acquired taste.[5] Muscadines are typically used in making artisan wines, juice, and jelly. They are rich sources of polyphenols.[6]

In a natural setting, muscadines are important plants for improving wildlife habitat by providing cover, browse, and fruit for a wide variety of animals.[7]


Although in the same genus Vitis with the other grapevine species, muscadines belong to a separate subgenus, Muscadinia (the other grapevine species belong to subgenus Euvitis), and some have suggested giving it standing as a genus of its own. Some taxonomists have also suggested splitting two additional species off from Vitis rotundifolia, Vitis munsoniana and Vitis popenoei. All have 40 chromosomes, rather than 38, are generally not cross-compatible with Euvitis species, and most hybrids between the subgenera are sterile. A few, however, are at least moderately fertile, and have been used in breeding. A commercially available Euvitis x Muscadinia hybrid is the Southern Home cultivar.[8]


North Carolina muscadine grapes

There are about 152[9] muscadine cultivars grown in the Southern states.[10] These include bronze, black and red varieties and consist of common grapes and patented grapes.[11]

Unlike most cultivated grapevines, many muscadine cultivars are pistillate, requiring a pollenizer to set fruit. A few, however, such as 'Carlos' and 'Noble', are perfect-flowered, produce fruit with their own pollen, and may also pollinate pistillate cultivars.[10]

Cultivars include Black Beauty, Carlos, Cowart, Flowers, Fry, Granny Val, Ison, James, Jumbo, Magnolia, Memory (first found on T.S. Memory's farm in 1868 in Whiteville, NC), Mish, Nesbitt, Noble, Scuppernong, Summit, Supreme, and Thomas.[11][12] Produced by the University of Florida, the cultivar, 'Southern Home', contains both muscadine and subgenus Vitis in its background.

Crops can be started in 3–5 years. Commercial yields of 20–45 tonnes per hectare (8–18 tons per acre) are possible. Muscadines grow best in fertile sandy loam and alluvial soils. They grow wild in well-drained bottom lands that are not subject to extended drought or waterlogging. They are also resistant to pests and diseases, including Pierce's disease, which can destroy other grape species. Muscadine is one of the grape species most resistant to Phylloxera, an insect that can kill roots of grapevines.[13]


Some muscadines in a bowl; the green grapes are scuppernongs

Appellations producing Muscadine wines:[14]


100 grams of muscadine grapes contain the following nutrients according to the USDA:[13]

  • Energy: 57 kilocalories
  • Fats: 0.47 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.93 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.9 g
  • Protein: 0.81 g
  • Calcium: 37 mg
  • Phosphorus: 24 mg
  • Potassium: 203 mg
  • Sodium: 1 mg
  • Vitamin C (total ascorbic acid): 6.5 mg
  • Riboflavin: 1.5 mg

Consumer researchEdit

Consumer research indicates that the thick skins and variable in-season quality of fresh muscadine grapes are significant deterrents to retail acceptance.[5][11]

Resveratrol and other polyphenolsEdit

The wild progenitor of the muscadine grape still grows freely in the southeastern United States, such as near Indiantown, South Carolina.

As muscadine grapes are notable for their highly pigmented, thick skins in which the content of polyphenols is known to be high,[6] there is active research interest to define these phytochemicals. One report indicated that muscadine grapes contained high concentrations of resveratrol,[15] but subsequent studies have found no or little resveratrol in muscadine grapes.[16]

Other muscadine polyphenols include:[6][17][18]

The rank order of total phenolic content among muscadine components was found to be seeds higher than skins higher than leaves higher than pulp.[6]


  1. ^ "Vitis rotundifolia". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  2. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  3. ^ "Profile for Vitis rotundifolia (muscadine)". PLANTS Database. USDA, NRCS. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  4. ^ Boning, Charles (2006). Florida’s Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 155. ISBN 1561643726.
  5. ^ a b Brown, K; Sims, C; Odabasi, A; Bartoshuk, L; Conner, P; Gray, D (2016). "Consumer Acceptability of Fresh-Market Muscadine Grapes". Journal of Food Science. 81 (11): S2808. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13522. PMID 27741360.
  6. ^ a b c d Pastrana-Bonilla E, Akoh CC, Sellappan S, Krewer G (August 2003). "Phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of muscadine grapes". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 51 (18): 5497–503. doi:10.1021/jf030113c. PMID 12926904.
  7. ^ Williams, Rick and Tim Baxley. Managing Native Vegetation for Wildlife. University of Florida IFAS Extension.
  8. ^ J.A. Mortensen, J.W. Harris, D.L. Hopkins, P.C. Andersen (1994). "'Southern Home': An InterspecificHybrid Grape with Ornamental Value" (PDF). HortScience. 29 (11): 1371–1372.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Vitis International Variety Catalog". VIVC. Retrieved 7 February 2018. External link in |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Muscadine Grape Breeding Program: General Information". Muscadine Grape Breeding Program: General Information. University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Xu, C; Yagiz, Y; Zhao, L; Simonne, A; Lu, J; Marshall, M. R. (2017). "Fruit quality, nutraceutical and antimicrobial properties of 58 muscadine grape varieties (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.) grown in United States". Food Chemistry. 215: 149–56. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.07.163. PMID 27542461.
  12. ^ Growing Muscadine Grapes in Oklahoma
  13. ^ a b "America's First Grape – The Muscadine". United States Department of Agriculture. November 1997.
  14. ^ "Appellations Growing Muscadine Grapes". Appellation America. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  15. ^ Ector BJ, Magee JB, Hegwood CP, Coign MJ. (1996). "Resveratrol Concentration in Muscadine Berries, Juice, Pomace, Purees, Seeds, and Wines". American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. 47: 57–62.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  16. ^ Pastrana-Bonilla E, Akoh CC, Sellappan S, Krewer G. "Phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of muscadine grapes". J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Aug 27;51(18):5497-503. PMID 12926904. quote: Contrary to previous results, ellagic acid and not resveratrol was the major phenolic in muscadine grapes.
  17. ^ Talcott ST, Lee JH (May 2002). "Ellagic acid and flavonoid antioxidant content of muscadine wine and juice". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 50 (11): 3186–92. doi:10.1021/jf011500u. PMID 12009984.
  18. ^ Lee JH, Johnson JV, Talcott ST (July 2005). "Identification of ellagic acid conjugates and other polyphenolics in muscadine grapes by HPLC-ESI-MS". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53 (15): 6003–10. doi:10.1021/jf050468r. PMID 16028988.

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