Appalachia Gardening

Drinking Water From Wild Grapevines

Trimming trees to let more sunlight into the garden

One evening last week, we helped Pap cut a few trees and scrub that had grown high enough to shade part of the big garden.

Let more sunlight into the garden by cutting trees

The Deer Hunter cut-and the rest of us piled brush and loaded the back of the truck with wood that was big enough to burn.

Hunting lizards

Of course being so close to the creek…

Looking for spring lizards

The girls had to take time to make some new friends.

Getting water to drink from grapevines

While we we were working-I kept feeling drops of water falling-almost like rain. As I looked up I saw the drops were coming from vines. The tops of the trees along the creek are full of wild grapes-we call them fox grapes. As The Deer Hunter cut trees-he cut through many vines as well.

Drinking water from grapevines

Once I realized where the drops were coming from-I showed everyone else. Since it’s spring of the year-I thought the drops were sap-but Pap said it was pure water. He said when he was a boy it was common knowledge that wild grapevines contained water. We had a hard time believing him at first-but once I smelled the liquid-and tasted it-I believed him.

Pap said when he was a boy if they were out playing or hunting in the woods-they would cut a grapevine to drink from it-not cause there wasn’t other water around to drink-just cause it was a neat thing to do.

I was amazed at how much water came out of the vines-and how fast it came out. In a matter of minutes you could have filled a cup full. I thought wild grapevines were great to eat from-and to swing on-but who knew they were good to drink from too!


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  • Reply
    October 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    That water is also said to make a most excellent hair tonic.
    It is reported to grow new hair on the baldest of heads. The science of this, I cannot explain, but it is, reportedly proven by husband’s grandfather.
    Though he was gone long before I came along, I can attest to the fact he passed with a fair amount of hair. Earlier photos prove him once almost completely bald.
    A Google search will also produce other such claims. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    That’s a new one on me, too.
    If it hadn’t been Pap telling the story, I’m not so sure I would have tasted it.
    I just love it when someone older than me shows me something new that’s been around forever. I just didn’t know it.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Tipper, that’s a new one on me, too. I never knew that!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2010 at 10:26 am

    We used to do just like your Pap…we cut grapevines to drink when we played outside all the time! Sometimes we would swing in them and they would come crashing down so we often drank from those ones!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    How neat! I would love to see them someday!

  • Reply
    trisha too
    March 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I did NOT know that!!!
    Another sign of spring–the frogs are singing like crazy!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    A long time ago when I first had to prune my grapes I freaked out from the amount of water that ran from the cut, I thought for sure they were going to bleed to death. But no, as it turns out it doesn’t harm them in the least. But every year it sets me back some at first, I’ve never seen so much fluid come from a pruning. When we have cut down maples or cotton woods they are full of water but they were going down anyway, so it doesn’t matter much other than knowing that all that water isn’t going to go up the tree and instead is going to sit around and make puddles ’til I plant something else to suck up all that water.

  • Reply
    Chef E
    March 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Oh Tipper, I suddenly got visions of Tarzan in my head, lol, or you swinging across a creek! As a girl of course, but maybe you could still ‘swing’ it, oh the puns could keep coming.
    Very informative woman!!!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    March 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    My brothers and I spent a lot of time in the woods back in East Tennessee and I was reminded by your article that we also supped water out of grape vines, smoked rabbit tobacco, ate May Apples, or at least tasted them. And marveled at things like the Jack-in-the-Pulpit and bloodroot. And drank face down in the stream and jumped in.
    I remember the sinking feeling when the grape vine would pull down out of the tree limbs just as I was leaving the ground and swinging out, hoping not to swing back into the tree trunk. I’ve landed many times with a thud, only to have that mass of dusty vine come earthward and pile on me and around me; me still laughing.
    The woods is a separate and completely different world from cleared places. Oh, the same laws of physics and chemistry apply but they don’t matter when I’m there no more than how commerce works; things matter differently, if they matter at all. Who wants to catalog the smells of the woods or measure the density of the forest’s floor or estimate the board feet in its trees. I just want to walk in it, maybe lay down in it.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    How cool is that. I love your generous and beautiful world.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Never heard of that before Tipper but it does make sense.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Cool! No pun intended! 🙂 As my friend’s mom always says, “Count the day lost you don’t learn something new!”

  • Reply
    March 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I have seen that on television in a movie but didn’t ever try it around here. That is a good survival thing to know.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

    That’s a new one on me. Never heard of drinking from the wild fox grape vines. Wonder if it is also true of regular grape vines? It kind of makes sense that the vine would hold water since their fruit is such a high percent of water…kind of like we are.
    Looks like you all got a lot of clearing done. I know Pap was glad for the help.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I adore coming here and learning new things! Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I never knew about the water in them, but did you know after they are dried out they are hollow (maybe that is where the water stays) and when I was 12 we would sneek out in the woods and light the end of it and smoke it, the smoke came through the hollow part.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I always learn something from you, Tipper. I did not know that wild grape vines were full of water…. Amazing!!!!!
    I know your “Pap” will be glad to get more sun for his garden.
    We had rain off and on all day long today.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    March 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Well, how fun is that? See, we all need the older generation to clue us in on things.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    March 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Cool! Never heard of that.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    March 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    We had to cut a river birch yesterday and it was just pouring the sap!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 28, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    This was new to me, but my husband says he remembers that from when he was young. He also used to swing on them.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I thought I was the only girl that like to turn rocks in the creek “huntin’ the salamanders”….The real prize was one with orange and black spots….always being mindful of the little crayfish that “scoot” backwards out from under a rock and scare the “peediddys” out of you…I’d scream and laugh at the same time….Loved those fox grapes tooo……
    Careful of the leafless poison ivy vines growing up those oaks…
    But…I bet your daughters are “savy” enough to tell the difference between vines…..

  • Reply
    March 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Charles-Pap does remember the days when folks smoked dried grapevines. He said him and his friends tried it a lot-but none of them really liked it : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    March 28, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Would have thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Am refreshed just reading about it, Tipper! Fascinating! :))

  • Reply
    March 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Ask Pap and Tony if they ever tried smoking dried grapevine. Not only have I drank water from the grape vines I played Tarzan when swinging on them and also smoked them.
    Looks like the garden needs burning?

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull WIke, Ph.D.
    March 28, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Hey Tipper: I am going to be like my twelve year old grandson when I tell him something he knows already – his response is: “I know that already, Grandma!” But the notion of fresh water from the wild grape vines is still refreshing on a perfectly MOIST Sunday morning. With sixty degree temperatur and mist falling, I can just feel my flowers/shrubs growing!
    Now to my real excitement about this FRESH WATER – I would like to send your note to my brother/his wife who are over in Afganistan – trying to teach those poor people how to farm, raise chickens, and just survive! Your site would be so refreshing in many ways. PARTICULARLY those mountain folks of yours making such fine music. My brother told me he had met a Nashville Tennessee SAILOR in his compound. The sailor heard them making music on Saturday night and told my brother HE WANTED TO LEARN TO PLAY THE GUITAR. He has a guitar but doesn’t have any strings. So my brother is going to put some strings on that Sailor’s guitar and teach him how to play! Who knows? He may go back to Nashville and MAKE IT BIG IN THE WORLD OF HILLBILLY MUSIC!
    Cheers! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    March 28, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    What a fun discovery!

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