Matthew and I have begun looking for native populations of Vitis riparia and V. rupestris in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Our first collections took us to northern MO, in nearly idyllic weather – 75°F, sunny, with a light breeze. Our first site was germane agricultural land in Troy, with V. riparia growing along ditches. However, the site near Bowling Green proved to be a much more scenic landscape. On the rocky banks of a beautiful lake, many Vitaceae species were flourishing, including V. aestivalis, V. cinerea, Ampelopsis cordata, and of course our beloved V. riparia. Perplexingly, there were several strange-looking individuals whose identities continue to evade us. Despite a Vitis rupestris-like growth habit, these individuals exhibited leaf texture and pubescence reminiscent of V. aestivalis. Hopefully some resolution can be gleaned from molecular data and consultation with botanists at the Missouri Botanical Garden of the samples taken.
Our next collection trip took us to the heart of the Ozarks. We drove to northwestern Arkansas and made Fort Smith our base camp for two days of collecting in eastern Oklahoma and throughout northwestern/central Arkansas. We spent the days combing dry creek beds for what now appears to be rare populations of Vitis rupestris. The days were a formidable 95°F and sunny; although preferable to rain, the heat made the days somewhat exhausting. Making novel collections of V. rupestris proved to be rather difficult. We combed habitat that seemed favorable for the rock grape and found it barren. Even in places of confirmed localities only few individuals persisted, many of which were battle damaged from flooding in the preceding weeks. We collected what individuals we could, and headed back for Saint Louie.
Starting in July and August, we will have to return to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and southern Missouri to continue the hunt for the elusive Vitis rupestris. Additionally, we will be looking for populations in which V. riparia and V. rupestris occur in the same location. In the meantime, I will be heading to Geneva, NY to start analysis of genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) data with Jason Londo of the USDA and morphometrics with Dan Chitwood of the Danforth Plant Science Center. Then, I head to Wisconsin for some northern V. riparia collections, followed by the Grape Research Coordination Network (GRCN) Conference in Davis, CA. Look for more updates!
P.S.: Check out photos of my grape hunts!
Miller Lab members