Cayratia mollissima, the bush grape…

on 17th July 2016

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: Dwarf Honey Bee (Apis andreniformis) (below)…

StinglessBee (Trigona sp.)

…and Common Honey Bee (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
2nd July 2016

Note: The firsrt video should be on Dwarf Honey Bee (Apis andreniformis) and the second on Common Honey Bee (Apis cerana). The titles of the videos have been amended, but not the video itself. Any comments on the identification of the bees are welcome.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

14 Responses

      1. I think it is highly poisonous. I happen to spotted one look alike and took a very small bite just to see how is the taste. At 1st it taste sweet then slight bitter. 2 mins later, I feel a sharp itchy sensation on my throat. Like have a sore throat. It slowly becomes painful. I then quickly run to a near by wash room to gurgle and wash it off with plenty of water. Can sent you picture of the fruit and plant if you want.

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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) 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.

  6. I was almost killed by just tasting it. Within a few minutes, my throat was extremely sore and painful. 30 minutes later, I was breathless and almost died. I was went to SGH A&E for treatment. Don’t try it. It is poisonous!!! If I ate it, I won’t be able to write this comment

  7. Thank you for the interesting article. Also thank you for the feedback by Jeff Tan and further input of YC Wee about the poisonous nature of the fruits and its taste. I was often tempted to try the taste of the exotic looking fruits whenever I saw them in the jungle but did not because I was unsure of its edibility.

  8. I see this similar plant with fruits in Ang Mo Kio park, pinkish fruits very juicy… thinking very seriously if I should try ….

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