Muscadines / Scuppernongs and History

I am a little obsessed with the muscadines. I spend way too much time thinking about them, pruning them, studying the grapes. Let's just say they are not a profit center for the farm! But they pull their weight in interest and intrigue. The annual vegetables move in and out so fast, sometimes it is hard to make too detailed a study of, for example, arugula. But the grapes are here -- for years. And the plants are always changing.

Scuppernongs are a variety of msucadines -- and "scuppernong" is a colloquial name with many variations and socio-cultural meanings (yep! -- plants can play quite a part in natural and cultural history). Typically, scuppernong describes the greenish of the muscadine type grapes, as opposed to the dark, almost black muscadines. They are native to the southeastern US, coastal zones primarily. Scuppernongs were first described in a written account in the mid-1500's by an Italian explorer who was traveling the coastal rivers of North Carolina. And anyone who has spent time in the south in July knows the abundance of grapes that can be found by people, deer, birds and other friends. The word "scuppernong" probably derives from a Native American word for sweet bay tree (mangolina or gordonia sp., usually): ascopo. They are a real treat this time of year, and just thrive in the heat and (thankfully) drought.

We grow several old varieties of scupernong and muscadines. I love then all.

Here is a photo from this morning, just after pruning (not an ideal time, by the way):

Muscadine July 2012
Muscadine July 2012
AthensLauren Cox