The Medicinal Plant of the Year 2023: The Grapevine

Sun-Loving Climbing Plant

In viticulture, several hundred grapevine varieties are cultivated. They all belong to Vitis vinifera, the grapevine. There are eight to ten thousand varieties of it, and what they all have in common is their tendency to seek support with tendrils and extend their roots deep into the soil to draw water from great depths. This adaptation makes them drought-resistant and sun-loving. With proper care, grapevines can live up to 100 years.

Health-Promoting Compounds

The fruits (grapes) are rich in secondary plant compounds, such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These compounds are primarily concentrated in the cores of the berries, which should be considered when buying seedless grapes from the market. However, they are also found in the skin and leaves of red grapes. These substances primarily serve the plants by protecting them from UV radiation and parasites. In the human body, they exhibit antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, and it has been demonstrated that OPC can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells in certain doses. For more information on this topic, it is best to consult your trusted doctor.

But it’s not just the fruits that are significant: the plant sap that emerges in spring (referred to as grapevine sap) is a popular ingredient in cosmetics, and grape leaves also play a role in many (medicinal) kitchens. Red grape leaves support venous disorders, and grape leaves pickled in early summer are a vegetable rich in fiber, protein, as well as Vitamin E and K, folic acid, and minerals.

A New Badge for You!

If you find and identify a grapevine this year, you will receive a new badge for your profile: the Medicinal Plant of the Year 2023!

This article was featured as a story in the Flora-Incognita app in autumn 2023. In the app, you can find exciting information about plants, ecology, species knowledge, as well as tips and tricks for plant identification. Why not take a look!