Potentilla indica (Mock Strawberry)
|Also known as:
|False Strawberry, Indian Strawberry
|part shade, shade; disturbed soil; lawns, woods, stream banks, fields, roadsides
|April - August
|3 to 5 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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A single flower is at the end of a naked stalk that arises from a leaf node. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across with 5 yellow petals, numerous yellow-tipped stamens, and 5 green pointed-tipped sepals that are somewhat shorter than the petals.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal and palmately compound in groups of 3, and evergreen. Leaflets are ½ to 2 inches long, up to 1¼ inch wide, oval to egg-shaped, rounded to bluntly pointed at the tip, rounded to wedge-shaped at the base, bluntly toothed around the edges, sparsely hairy on both surfaces, especially along major veins on the underside. Leaflets are very short stalked, the compound leaf on a long sparsely hairy stalk. Stems are above ground runners (stolons) that root at tips from which a crown of leaves emerge.
Fruit is erect, berry-like, round, about ½ inch diameter, bright red at maturity. Tiny red seeds are raised on the surface giving it a bumpy texture. The persistent bracts and sepals tend to become more reflexed (downward pointing) in fruit. Fruit is edible but dry and tasteless.
Mock Strawberry, also known as Duchesnea indica, is an introduction from Asia, planted as an ornamental or ground cover and has been known to escape cultivation. It is a branching, sprawling plant that is low to the ground, only reaching a few inches tall, and can reroot where the leaf nodes touch the ground, creating dense patches. While the yellow flowers are pretty typical for a Potentilla species, the rest of the plant more closely resembles our native Strawberries (Fragaria). Strawberries have clusters of white flowers, the juicy, tasty fruits nodding at maturity, where Mock Strawberry flowers are single and the dry, tasteless fruit erect. Native strawberries also lack the 3-lobed bracts around the base of the flower/fruit.
While as of this writing there are no herbarium records for any Minnesota populations, it has started showing up with some frequency at reporting sites such as iNaturalist and EDDMapS. Those reports put it primarily in parks and nature centers, mostly in wooded areas and near residential neighborhoods. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has designated it invasive or potentially so; we won't argue with that. If you see it, report it.
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Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?