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  • Vitex vinifera L.
  • Vitaceae
  • Grape family

Common Names

herbsDark grape
herbsFox grape

Parts Usually Used

Fruits and leaves

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Everyone is familiar with the grape vine. The following information pertains to the dark grape species.

Grapevines supported on old-fashioned arbors and grown with special pruning methods produce more fruit than those grown on conventional wire training trellises. The top-area is exposed to more sunlight and the pruning secret is to take out some of the hard stems, and to pick off from a third to a half of the small bunches of grapes before they use up too much of the available plant food. Experts have found that more foliage means bigger, better-flavored grapes.

Another variety: the fox grape (Vitis labrusca) is a high-climbing liana vine. Leaves rounded in outline, heart-shaped at base; 3-lobed, toothed, with dense whitish to reddish felt beneath. Fruits about 20 purple-black (or amber white) grapes in a cluster around September to October.

Where Found

Found in thickets, woods; southern Maine to Georgia; Tennessee to Michigan. Widely cultivated.

Medicinal Properties

Nutritive, diuretic

Biochemical Information

Vitamins A, B, C, dextrose, fructose, pectin, tartaric and malic acids, mineral salts, tannin, flavone, glycosides and pigment, magnesium, potassium, iron, niacin, riboflavin, carbohydrates

Legends, Myths and Stories

In the reference book, 50 Years Anthology; The Herbalist Almanac, written by Clarence Meyer, edited by David C. Meyer, in memory of Joseph E. Meyer, "the Herb Doctor", there is a small paragraph that seems apt here. This quote is reported to have come from the 1585 edition of Dodoens' A Nievve Herball or Historie of Plantes.

Quote: "I will touch onely the particular properties of wine it selfe, both as it is medicinable and nourishing, for taken moderately, and by them that are of a middle age, or well stept in yeares, or are of a cold and dry disposition and (not very young, and so their blood too hot for to abide wine) it encreaseth blood and nourisheth much: it procureth an appetite, and helpeth to digest being taken at meate (meals)--it expelleth feares, cares, and heavinesse, and breedeth alacrity, mirth and bodily pleasure--causeth quiet rest and sleepe, both to the sound and sicke that lacke it--on the contrary side, the excess thereof breedeth a distraction in the sense, the Appoplexie, and Lethargy or drowsie evill, the trembling of the joynts, the palsie, and the dropsie."


Treats blood and energy deficiency, night sweats, thirst, palpitations, rheumatic pains, difficult urination, edema, dry cough.

Wild or cultivated whole grape leaves were put in the bottom of crocks to preserve the color of beans that were stored. Grape leaves also used to wrap fresh-made butter. Said to help preserve butter. Cultivated grape leaves considered best.

Vitis labrusca (fox grape) was used by the Native Americans as leaf tea for diarrhea, hepatitis, stomachaches, thrush. Externally, they poulticed wilted leaves for sore breasts, rheumatism, headaches, fevers. Other Vitis species have been used similarly. Vines, when cut in the summer, yield potable water, possibly purer than today's acid-rain water.

Formulas or Dosages

Drink the fresh juice of the fruit.

According to one reference if grape juice is taken four times each day; 1 oz. in plain water and 3 oz. grape juice, taken 1/2 hour before each meal and upon retiring, then the matter of dieting will take care of itself. The only restrictions as far as diet is concerned, should be sweets, chocolate; great quantities of sugars, pastries. But all other foods, vegetables, and meats, provided they are not fats, may be taken according to the appetite; but the appetite will change a great deal. Obesity will regulate itself when this is done regularly.

Nutrient Content

Magnesium, potassium, iron, niacin, riboflavin, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B, C, dextrose, fructose

How Sold



Do not confuse the fox grape vine with Canada Moonseed (Menispermum canadense), which is considered toxic.

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