Grape Escape 1-2.
Hunting for wild relatives of the grape vine took Jun Wen and I on a trip from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. to Columbus, Ohio (Botany 2012). There I participated in a great ASP- sponsored chromosome workshop on the mighty the Ohio State University campus. From Columbus we drove on to Pennsylvania, and then into Canada and met up with Jean Gerrath and Usher Posluszny at the University of Guelph, Ontario. On to traversing Quebec and the New England States of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, continuing into New York and Pennsylvania until finally arriving back in Washington, DC. Lots of great Vitaceae collections and visiting some grape orchards in Quebec. Mainly collecting Parthenocissus populations samples.
Grape Escape 3.
I continued my collaboration with Smithsonian Curator Jun Wen on disentangling recent divergences and reticulate evolution and monographic studies in the grape genus Vitis. Together we embarked on the third “Grape Escape,” driving 4,000 miles in eight days to traverse the Southeastern United States from Washington DC to Oklahoma and Western Texas, along the Louisiana coast, and back to DC. We collected more than 90% of the known species of Vitis in North America, as well as bringing back live plants of each taxon to the Smithsonian’s greenhouse for ongoing research on leaf anatomy and inflorescence development. A highlight of the trip was the (re)discovery of the very elusive Vitis palmata Vahl, a wild grape described originally from Virginia in 1794. Thought the occurrence in Virginia was later discussed by Engelmann in 1883 as “erroneous, but not more so than many other American localities published in those, geographically, dark ages.” Wen has been hunting this wild grape for several years, but it has remained elusive. The search came to an end when we located it along the banks of the Mississippi River at the Stump Lake Fish and Wildlife Management Area. This gorgeous, slender climber with red young branches and petioles led Michaux to describe specimens from Illinois as Vitis rubra, a synonym of V. palmata.
Grape Escape 4-5.