Spring is just around the corner. Or so I keep telling myself. Whilst spring is still a few months away, and the snow is still on the ground, it helps to think of things that remind me of spring. One such thing is strawberries. I love wild strawberries.
The wild strawberry, or Fragaria if ye prefer, is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) Family.
Most folks will recognize the strawberry on sight, if they grew up with a garden or grew up in a semi rural area and spent any time in the woodlands at all as a child.
But for everyone else, it’s pretty easy to identify.
It has three toothy leaves on a single stem. The bottoms of the leaves are quite hairy most of the time, and soft to the touch.
When in flower, it has five white petals, and the center of the flower is distinctly yellow. These flowers give way to green fruit which then white, and which finally turn red when fully ripe. Where I live the plants are in fruit May to June.
Most of the strawberries I find growing around here tend to be Fragaria virginiana. Unless they are escaped culitvars, which was originally a blend between F. virginiana and F. chiloensis the ‘Coastal Strawberry’.
You can tell the difference between Woodland Strawberries (F. vesca) and the Common Wild Strawberry (F. virginiana) in that the Woodland Strawberry has seeds that stick OUT from the berry, like little seedy bumps, whilst the Common Wild Strawberry has seeds that are recessed.
These are not the tasteless cardboard flavored berries that you find at the produce section of your local grocery store. Oh no. These will knock your socks off in terms of flavor and taste. On the rare occasion that I find one before the squirrels do, it’s a wonderful treat. But then again, the solution to that, perhaps, is just to start eating the squirrels. 😉
Strawberries also don’t have any deadly lookalikes, so that’s another bonus. Though they are occasionally mistaken by some folks for cinquefoils. If ye look closely in some of the pics, you can see a few smaller, 5 leafed plants that kinda-sorta look similar to strawberry leaves. These are Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans). The leaves of which can be eaten raw.
These pictures were taken in Pennsylvania on May 14th, 2011. The plants had flowered, but not fruited, yet.
Strawberries growing wild in my woods. Likely Fragaria virginiana. Though with the proximity to the garden it could always be an escaped F.virginiana cultivar which has ‘gone wild’ again. Either way, they are always a tasty treat to look forward to!
Edit: I found some other strawberry pictures, taken June 12, 2011.