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Wild vines

wild wine (GB)
vignes sauvages (F)

Term for natural vine deposits that have developed over the course of the long history of evolution as species (species) and subspecies (subspecies). Wild grapes are not allowed with the as Wild Wine designated vine genera can be confused. The art areas are a mirror of the Climate- and vegetation history of the respective settlement areas and provide information about the adaptability of the species. Where the areas of different species overlap, viable natural hybrids could be replaced by natural ones crossing form. Based on the numerous finds of fossil seeds, wood residues and leaf prints, it is proven that there were wild preforms of the vines at the end of the Cretaceous period (early Eocene) and in the early Quaternary (oligocene), i.e. around 60 to 80 million years ago , Due to the ice ages (100,000 to 10,000 years before today), wild vines native to Central Europe were pushed back into the Mediterranean and the lowlands of the then non-existent Black Sea and Central Asia.

Wild grapes in Europe, Asia and America

One of the oldest descriptions of wild vines (besides those in the Bible ) comes from the trips of the Icelandic Leif Eriksson in the Grenlinga saga, who became famous around the year 1000 Vinland on the east coast of the United States (Massachusetts) reached. In the 17th century, European settlers in North America found wild vines in the forests. Today there are even larger stocks in the east and southeast of the North American continent, as well as in Asia, especially in China,

European vine - Vitis vinifera ssp. sylvestris

Due to the climatic conditions in Europe described below, only Vitis vinifera survived here. It is divided into the culture form Vitis vinifera ssp. vinifera (obsolete Vitis vinifera ssp. sativa) and the wild form Vitis vinifera ssp. Sylvestris Gmelin . The subspecies Vitis vinifera ssp. caucasica Vavilov demarcated, which can no longer be understood today. The latter two are after the botanists Johann G. Gmelin (1709-1755) and Nikolai I. Vavilov (1887-1943). In contrast, there are the large groups of species Asians Vines and American vines with around 20 species each.

Development in Europe

During the periods of the interglacial warm periods, new vine stocks continued to form in Central Europe, which were wiped out by the subsequent ice ages. After the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years ago, during the subsequent warming period (5500 to 2500 BC) with its subtropical monsoon climate, the wild vines and other woody plants returned to Central Europe. The large-scale spread was mainly caused by birds, which ate the berries together with the seeds and excreted the indigestible seeds somewhere with the bird droppings. Floods also contributed to the spread in the floodplains. In this way, new wild grapes were able to spread in the oak forests and riparian forests, which were much lighter at the time.

Together with the tree species advancing to the north, wild vines are thought to have been widespread far to the north and into the montane step, because the tree line was about 200 m higher than today. Wild vines in bush form appeared in the light mixed oak forests or climbed up to 20 meters high on emerging trees. They are likely to be as old as their carrier trees, that is to say they have become around 80 to 300 years old. From about 2500 BC The climate deteriorated noticeably and in this cooler phase settled from 1800 BC Chr. Closed dark beech forests in Central Europe as the dominant forest formation. As a result, the European wild vine stocks were pushed back to the large floodplains, because in the extremely shady and long-lived indoor forests formed by the beech trees (without soil growth) or in the now much cooler mountain forests, germinating seedlings no longer offered sufficient growth and living conditions.

However, reproductive wild vine populations survived in thousands of specimens in the light softwood meadows of the large river valleys of Danube. Rhine. Rhone and their tributaries. Because only there did the annual floods create a dynamic and structurally rich vegetation mosaic from the most diverse stages of plant communities. In the ever-emerging clearings with burgeoning shrub growth and natural tree rejuvenation, the light and heat-loving vines offered the optimal growing and climbing conditions. In addition, the deposited mud created the ideal seed bed for seed germination. In southern regions, with increasing drought, the river valleys were also able to offer the vines sufficient water, light and settlement dynamics.

Wild grapes on the Ketscher Rheininsel (Baden-Württemberg)

By clearings Towards the end of the 19th century, the planting of forests, the targeted removal of the thickets of wild vines, as well as extensive river straightening and draining of the riparian forests, they are now almost extinct in Europe. There are some remaining stocks in Spain (Basque Country), France (on the banks of Garonne. Loire and Rhone ), in Germany (on the upper reaches of the Rhine ), in Switzerland (Lake Geneva), in Austria (in the Lobau area near Wien ), in the Balkans and on the Danube, especially in Serbia and Romania. On the Ketscher Rheinisel (a nature reserve) west of the eponymous municipality Ketsch in Baden-Württemberg is the largest stock of wild grapes Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris in Germany.

Differences between wild and cultural vines

If you take a wild vine in culture and raise and cut it like a cultivated one Rebstock, the difference between cultivated and wild vines is not that big. The main difference is the so-called dioecious, that is, the vines of the wild vines bear only functionally male or only functionally female flowers and are thus on one pollination reliant. However, there are still some functional ones female cultivars, and about 1 to 5% of the wild vines in the remaining stands have hermaphrodite flowers. The rule for wild vines, however, are dioecious plants with unisexual flowers, blue berries, elongated internodes and long, functional tendrils. The monoecious Cultivated vines mostly carry hermaphrodite (see also in detail under blossom ).

Other characteristics of wild grapes are relatively small, lockerbeerige Grapes and small berries with comparatively large seeds, although the grapes of some species can keep up with small-berry Central European varieties. Also genotypisch It is difficult to make a clear distinction between European wild grape and European cultural vine. When it comes to game species, however, we do not speak of varieties, but of forms and often use the collector, place of collection and numbers instead of melodious names. Two such forms are Vitis vinifera ssp. sylvestris Ketsch 7 (after the Ketscher Rheininsel site in Baden-Württemberg) and Vitis cinerea Arnold (after the American botanist Charles Arnold ).

Most likely, the remaining wild grape stocks can no longer be seen as originally. On the one hand, due to geographical isolation and tiny population sizes, the remaining Central and Southern European deposits show incest signs, which are expressed genotypically in an increased degree of homozygosity (hereditary equality) of the alleles. On the other hand, there are already some plants in which genes from cultivated vines or hybrid varieties may have spontaneously crossed due to pollen from neighboring vineyards. The similarities between Rhenish wild vines and old cultivars like Pinot Noir. Riesling or Traminer must therefore not be misinterpreted. These similarities are presumably not due to the selection from wild grape stocks or the spontaneous crossing of wild grape pollen into the cultural stocks. Rather, the cultural stocks may have crossed into the wild vine stocks.

Development of the grape varieties

Spontaneous new variety formation continues to this day. You can often find traces of the past as documents used hybrid vines of the American species Vitis labrusca. Vitis riparia or Vitis rupestris, Favored by the fungus resistance, some were able to make new ones hybrid grape form. Obviously, hybrid genes have already crossed into some European wild grapes, because in the genotypic profiles of some wild grape populations of the Rhine and Danube alleles that are otherwise only found American vines occur, but cannot be found in any of the old European varieties. Wild grape stocks are subject to natural evolution and selection. Therefore, they are often characterized by elevated resistance against indigenous diseases or negative environmental influences. Most American game species have defense mechanisms against them phylloxera and both mildews developed while the Asians Vines depth freezing temperatures had to survive.

The wild Europeans Vines on the other hand, no such resistances had to develop, since until the middle of the 19th century there was no selection pressure for phylloxera or flour resistance and the frosts in the deep river valleys were not so severe. Today's remaining populations, with the exception of the even larger stocks on the lower Danube, are hardly capable of active reproduction due to the small numbers and difficult germinating conditions. Without reproduction, these already outdated stocks at the natural sites are inevitably doomed to extinction, so that evolutionary processes of adaptation to new pathogens are no longer to be expected from there. That is why resistant wild species from America and Asia are still used today in resistance breeding as gene donors for fungus-resistant new varieties used.

Historically, the first cultivated vine varieties probably originate from wild forms that survived around 7,500 years ago on the edge of the Caucasus, from which the cultivated grape varieties that are still preserved today have evolved over thousands of years through selection, cross-breeding, renewed selection and targeted or spontaneous cross-breeding. From when targeted in the past Varieties (Crossings) took place is not known. Wild vines were already collected and used by Stone Age people 9,000 years ago, as evidenced by grape seeds found in Asia Minor. The actual domestication, i.e. the cultivation of cultivars for wine production, probably took place six to eight thousand years ago Transcaucasia on the southern edge of the Caucasus and in Mesopotamia began. According to the latest research, the wine culture with vines in the southeast of Anatolia is not far away Ararat originated in today's Turkey.

Spread of the cultivated vines

From there, viticulture has spread to the west (Anatolia, Mediterranean, Balkans / Danube countries) and south (Mesopotamia, Jordan Valley, Egypt) and east (Iran, Afghanistan, China), where the wine culture through the ancient civilizations of the Egyptian. Assyrian. Babylonian Hittite Persian and Sumerer was refined. Presumably new varieties have emerged from seedling sowing and selection in every historical growing area at different times. Certainly some of these are ancient grape varieties perhaps introduced to southern Europe by Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) and others before him and by the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans have been grown and distributed. The Indo-European peoples probably have the Celts in Gaul and in the Balkans already had regional climate-adapted varieties for viticulture long before the Roman Empire was established. The Bronze Age long-distance trade has contributed to the general spread of grape varieties from Asia Minor and the Mediterranean.

As already mentioned, wild grapes are usually dioecious. To produce fruit on female plants, pollinator plants are needed in the neighborhood. Presumably, the rare cases of hermaphrodite and large-grape female plants in the wild vine populations were specifically selected and further cultivated in the gardens together with imported varieties, possibly crossed with one another in earlier times and sown again until more productive varieties were grown with hermaphrodite flowers. Through the hermaphrodite the cultivated vine becomes Selbstbefruchter, making a regular earnings is secured. Today, the cultivars Vitis vinifera ssp. vinifera almost only hermaphrodite and some old ones female grape varieties, Wild grapes are popular today as ornamental vines on walls or pergolas used. The pictures show American ( Vitis riparia ) and Asian species ( Vitis coignetiae ) at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam ( Brandenburg ).

Wild grapes - Vitis riparia and Vitis coignetiae in Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam

Perhaps the purely female grape varieties still preserved in large quantities in the Balkans are an eloquent testimony to this perhaps very old breeding tradition. Targeted fertilization of mother varieties with pollen from selected father varieties, subsequent sowing and seedling selection are only documented in writing from the middle of the 19th century, initially for England and France, later increasingly for the whole of Europe. However, ancient civilizations have probably already dealt with targeted crossbreeding, but at the latest after the collapse of the Roman Empire, this knowledge, which was probably never written down, was unfortunately lost during the turmoil of the migration of nations and in the anti-scientific Middle Ages.

Additional information

See also under the topic Ancient grape varieties and Vines systematics, A comprehensive list of relevant keywords on the subject of grape variety is under the keyword grapevine contain.

Above: By Javier Martin - Own work, public domain , link
Middle picture: Von AnRo0002 - Own work, CC0 , Link
Pictures below: FassadenGrün

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