Vitis rotundifolia, or muscadine, is a grapevine species native to the southeastern and south-central United States from Florida to Delaware, west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. It has been extensively cultivated since the 16th century. 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.
Muscadine berries range from bronze to dark purple to black in color when ripe. However, many wild varieties stay green through maturity. Muscadines have skin sufficiently thick and tough that eating the raw fruit is not popular among consumers. Muscadines are typically used in making artisan wines, juice, and jelly. They are rich sources of polyphenols.
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.
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.
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, Scuppernong, Summit, Supreme, Thomas, 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.
Muscadines have been used for making commercial fine wines and port wines dating back to the 16th century in and around St. Augustine, Florida. Today, vineyards throughout the Southeast produce muscadine wines of various qualities.
The typical muscadine wine is sweet because vintners traditionally add sugar during the winemaking process; the wine is often considered a dessert wine although some drier varieties exist. The term scuppernong refers to a large bronze type of muscadine originally grown in North Carolina; it is also used in making wine, principally dry red table wine.
- America (Country Appellation)
- Alabama (State Appellation)
- Arkansas (State Appellation)
- Florida (State Appellation)
- Georgia (State Appellation)
- Louisiana (State Appellation)
- Mississippi (State Appellation)
- North Carolina (State Appellation)
- South Carolina (State Appellation)
- Tennessee (State Appellation)
- Texas (State Appellation)
100 grams of muscadine grapes contain the following nutritional information according to the USDA:
- 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
Resveratrol and other polyphenols
As muscadine grapes are notable for their highly pigmented, thick skins in which the content of polyphenols is known to be high, there is active research interest to define these phytochemicals. One report indicated that muscadine grapes contained high concentrations of resveratrol, but subsequent studies have found no or little resveratrol in muscadine grapes.
- anthocyanins such as delphinidin and petunidin
- flavan-3-ols (catechins, particularly in seeds)
- gallic acid
- ellagic acid (particularly in skin)
- ellagic acid glycosides
- myricetin (particularly in leaves)
The rank order of total phenolic content among muscadine components was found to be seeds higher than skins higher leaves higher than pulp.
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- Williams, Rick and Tim Baxley. Managing Native Vegetation for Wildlife. University of Florida IFAS Extension.
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- Growing Muscadine Grapes in Oklahoma
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- 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.
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- The Muscadine Experience: Adding Value to Enhance Profits 2004 – 80 page technical resource for growers and processors, University of Arkansas.