Cayratia mollissima, the bush grape…

posted in: Bees and wasps, Fauna, Plants, Videography | 10

Cayratia mollissima fr

Around November 2015, Tan Teo Seng brought me a bunch of pinkish, grape-like fruits from Johor, Malaysia. The fruits were eventually identified as Cayratia mollissima (formerly Vitis mollissima), belonging to the grape family, Vitaceae. I could not find any common name among the local literature but wild grape would serve the current purpose. The plant is native to Singapore although its conservation status is reported to be “threatened”. It makes an excellent ornamental plant for the fence.

Cayratia molissima fl

I hung the fruits in my garden for about a week but no animals (squirrel, civet cat, mynas, bulbuls…) would eat them. Eventually the fruits dropped one by one to the ground. I collected the seeds, placed them in a pot of soil and grew the plants by my fence. They have now flowered (above) and there are plenty of ants and bees pollinating them: Stingless bees (Trigona sp.) (below)…

StinglessBee (Trigona sp.)

…and Asian Hive Bees (Apis cerana) (below). Note the prominent blob of yellow compacted pollen grains on the outer surface of the hind legs of the bees.

GiantHoneybee (Apis dorsatra)-Cayratia mollissima

The National Parks Board link mentions pollination by bees and the larvae of the plume moth (Deuterocopus melanota) have been observed to feed on the floral buds.

Fruits are now appearing and I will be monitoring for other fauna that may be attracted to the fruits (as well as the plants in general).

YC Wee
Singapore
2nd July 2016

10 Responses

  1. I found it once in the forest on the way to the Mandai Zoo a long time ago. I see if I can find the picture.

  2. Had NO idea at all that grapes could grow here, and that we even have native species! What do these taste like and is pink their ripened colour?

  3. These are “wild” grapes, not the domesticated ones. We need guinea pigs to taste these fruits that ripen pink. True grapes actually can grow in the tropics but with difficulty. Have seen some fruiting.

  4. I don’t mind tasting them at all if they’re edible! Are these wild grapes the same as “true” grapes? When you say “true” grapes what do you mean?

    P.S. Very keen to see more such posts!

  5. Wild grapes = not domesticated i.e. improved for consumption – bigger, sweeter, etc. True grapes = found on supermarket shelves… My definition.

  6. Jeremy Seah

    Hi, check out FB SG Grapegrowers where locals plant grapes in HDB environnent

  7. Thanks for the link.

  8. I run into those recently. I was told they are edible so tried one. I can assure everyone that the fruit is NOT edible raw. It is not very sweet or sour, has very little real taste. But within three seconds of taking a small bite my mouth and throat were burning. Similar sensation to under-cooked Taro (usually sold in Singapore as yams) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taro The unpleasant burning lasts for several hours. And I only has a small bite, not even a quarter of one berry. I suspect no birds or animals eat the fruit for the same reason. Ps: the “real” grapes can be grown in Singapore.

  9. The burning sensation is caused by calcium oxalate needle-like crystals, see http://www.besgroup.org/2016/10/09/fruiting-of-bush-grape-cayratia-mollissima/. Same sensation when you bite into the stem of Dieffenbachia (dumb cane).

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