Upper Canopy Collection and Identification of Grapevines (Vitis) from Selected Forests in the Southeastern United States


Sydney E. Everhart

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ABSTRACT Woody grapevines (Vitis spp.) are common in the deciduous forests of the
southeastern United States. Their growth habit makes leaf collection challenging and
polymorphic leaves make identification of species difficult. Mature grapevines can grow up to 48 cm in diameter at breast height and reach the upper canopy of trees more than 35 m in height. Leaf morphology is the most readily available character used for species identification. However, most mature grapevines do not produce leaves below the upper canopy and if they do, these leaves are morphologically indistinguishable from other species. In order to sample leaves from mature grapevines, the doubled rope climbing method was used to access the canopy in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, Daniel Boone National Forest and Berea College Forest in Kentucky, and Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Missouri. Leaf voucher
specimens were collected from the upper canopy and used to create a modified key to species for those regions. The purposes of this paper are to report a new method for collecting grapevine leaf vouchers from the upper canopy of trees, to present a modified key used for identifying dried leaf vouchers of Vitis species, and to present a discussion of the possible utility of this research for future studies.