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Effects of grape vines on growth of black cherry trees

Chase Sadler and Jack Gomez


We studied the effects of grape vines on growth of black cherry trees in the DePauw Nature Park.  Previous research by Jessica Pond and Pooja Rathore found that growth of ash trees was affected by grape vines.  Another research project conducted by Jack Gomez, Sam Sullivan, Chase Sadler, and Jason Kirchhoff found that growth of sugar maple trees was not affected by grape vines.  Ash and black cherry are shade-intolerant whereas sugar maple is shade-tolerant.  Grape vines may be more likely to affect shade-intolerant tree species because the grape vines compete with the trees for access to sunlight in the canopy.


We hypothesized that black cherry trees with grape vines would be negatively affected compared to black cherry trees without grape vines.


We selected ten pairs of black cherry trees in forested areas east of the Rail Trail.  Each pair of trees was within 10 cm circumference and in the same habitat.  Within each pair, one cherry tree was colonized by a grape vine and the other cherry tree was not colonized by a grape vine.  Each tree was cored with an increment borer at chest height.  We measured the circumference of each tree.  We dried and sanded the tree cores.  We measured width of tree rings using a Velmex measuring system connected to a microscope.

results and discussion

Black cherry trees with grape vines had a significantly lower growth rate than cherry trees without vines (1.59 +/- 0.04 mm vs. 1.71 +/- 0.04 mm).  The lower growth rate was most likely due to the shade-intolerance of black cherry trees.