Wild grapes, also called fox grapes, are looking pretty ripe on Roundtop right now. It looks as though they will be especially abundant this year. In fact, the year is looking like a good one for various nuts of just about all kinds—especially hickory nuts and acorns, which are regularly and loudly falling onto the roof of the cabin right now.
The wild grapes native to the eastern U.S. are the starting stock for Concord grapes, I’ve read, and when I look at these tiny purple bunches of them, I can see that. And tiny is what they are, though the photo makes them look larger. A fox grape is about the size of a baby pea.
I’ve been told that there’s a poisonous grape called Canadian Moonseed that looks very similar and has much the same range. However, you can tell the two apart by the seed. The moonseed has a seed shaped like a crescent moon (hence its name). Fox grapes have a round seed. I’ve never found the poisonous variety here on Roundtop, though I don’t go around checking every plant I see either.
Eating moonseed grapes can be fatal, so if you are inclined to eat fox grapes, I would check a seed in every bunch to make sure you’ve got the right ones. Apparently, the moonseed grapes have a "rank" flavor, too, and why anyone would continue to eat something that’s rank is beyond me. Fox grapes are not rank.
Mostly, I don’t eat fox grapes, though I have tasted them. Sometimes they are great, sometimes they don’t seem to have a lot of flavor. Animals love them, and I’ve found it’s uncommon to get to a ripe bunch before some bird or, well, fox. They look pretty, though, don’t they? The forest provides berries in the spring and now that it’s fall, the animals will eat their fill of fox grapes. The forest has its own kind of harvest season.