Do you know the actual names for Oklahoma Native Edibles?

tlowery04(6b/7a)December 29, 2010

I have been trying to find out the name of the Sand Plum and Possum grapes that grow in the woods and along streams in Oklahoma, but I cannot seem to find anything that tells me what they are actually called, scientifically or otherwise.

If I can't find some seeds I will have to go hiking next spring and bring some home. If you know what possum grapes are, I don't even remember if they are edible or not, seems to me we used to eat them when we went fishing and they were very tart but i couldn't say with certainty that that is what we were eating on, or that its not what's wrong with me today =)


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Yes, Possum Grapes are very tart, and they make outstanding jelly. THAT is what jelly is supposed to taste like. It reminds me of my childhood.

I inquired about them here a couple of years ago. The consensus was they weren't desirable. But if I had them, I'd sure pick them.

Good luck finding seeds!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 11:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


When we first bought our land here in the fall of 1997, I bought two small books, both replete with photos, that helped me identify many of the native plants on our property. I wanted to know what they were before we began clearing this overgrown acreage so that we would not unnecessarily remove useful/desirable plants.

The two books are by Doyle McCoy and are called "Roadside Wild Fruits of Oklahoma" and "Roadside Trees and Shrubs of Oklahoma". I don't know if they are still in print because their copyright date is 1980 for the first one and 1981 for the second one, but they were printed by the University of Oklahoma Press so there's a chance they still might be in print.

Sand Plum is identified by McCoy as being Prunus angustifolia, and he gives its primary name as "Chickasaw Plum" and then adds that it is also known as Sand Plum, Red Plum and Western Plum. Here where I live in Love County, a lot of people call them Thicket Plum because of their tendency to form thickets over time. The small plums make a wonderful jelly or jam and although most of them produce red fruit, we sometimes see an occasional one with yellow fruit.

Possum Grape is identified by McCoy as Vitis vulpina and other names used for them in some areas includes Riverside Grape, Arroyo Grape, Bull Grape, Winter Grape, Frost Grape, Sweet Scented Grape and Post Oak Grape. Here in southern OK, most people call it Possum Grape or Fox Grape, and theses native possum grapes ripen in mid- thru late-August. Lots of folks here use them for jelly or wine. The leaves of the plants have large, simple, irregularly toothed blades.

The other wild grape I see regularly in southern OK is Summer Grape, Vitis cinerea but they tend to grow on streambanks where the vines climb high into the native trees. Their leaves look somewhat similar to those of the Possum Grape, but tend to have three lobes and are a bit more hairy and whitish. Other names for Summer Grape are Blue Grape, Ashe Grape and Downy Grape. These grapes are a bit larger than the ones found on Possum Grapes and they tend to mature in July. They also are used by some people for jelly or wine.

Hope this info helps.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 4:48AM
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I knew there was another grape that I've read about in Oklahoma, and finally had an "a-ha"! moment. It is Vitis riparia, or River Bank Grape. It also grows along fence rows, as well as along rivers, as its namesake implies, and flood plain forests. I see you are in zone 6b/7, so you may also find this grape during your "food forages".

I found a website called "Oklahoma Wildcrafting" with information on Oklahoma wild edibles including many grape species found in various locations throughout the state that you may find helpful. The information includes maps indicating which counties the various native food plants are found in, or at the very least, have been reported in.


Here is a link that might be useful: Oklahoma Wildcrafting

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:34AM
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That is some amazing stuff! Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:51AM
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Seedmama, you're welcome! I dabble in native plants, growing several in my yard for the butterflies. Most butterflies use native plants/shrubs/trees for their larval host plants, and after awhile you begin to get somewhat familiar with the names. As I get older, though, I find more things begin to elude me, LOL!

There are some really cool links to other sites on that website. I got caught up in reading about the National Dandelion Cook-off for one. Can you imagine 100 chefs getting together to present various dandelion dishes/recipes?


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:17PM
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Yes, possum grapes are edible - as the others have said they make excellent jelly and even do the wild muscadines that grow in SE Oklahoma. My mother always kept an eye open along the roads and creeks for sand plums, possum grapes, and muscadines. Sorry I don't know any of the correct names, but I can assure you that they are worth the trouble to have around - anything you can't use the birds will.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 11:40PM
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