Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry)
|Also known as:||Common Strawberry, Virginia Strawberry|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry open fields, woodland edges, along railroads, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Clusters of white flowers, usually several blooming at a time and sometimes nodding, at the end of a stem usually shorter than the height of surrounding leaves. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch wide with 5 round to oval petals, about 20 yellow stamens surrounding a yellowish center, and 5 sharply pointed sepals as long as or shorter than the petals. Multiple small leaflet-like bracts are often present where the flower stalks diverge at the top of the stem.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal and palmately compound in groups of 3. Leaflets are 1 to 1½ inches long, ¾ to 1 inch wide, oval to wedge-shaped rounded at the tip end, coarsely toothed, softly veined, generally finely hairy throughout, the central leaflet on a short stalk, the compound leaf on a long hairy stem. The tooth at the very tip is much smaller in size to the teeth on either side of it and does not extend beyond them. Color is generally a bluish-green. Stems are above ground runners (stolons) that root at tips from which a crown of leaves emerge.
Our two small red native strawberries, F. vesca and F. virginiana, are both common and widespread can be easily confused at first glance but have many distinguishing charaterisitcs: The terminal tooth on F. vesca is more consistently as large as the teeth around it, is sparsely hairy at best, has larger teeth and more prominent veins on the leaflets, has fruit longer than wide with raised seeds, smaller flowers with stems typically rising above the leaves, and has a preference for moister, shadier habitat. The cultivated strawberry F. ananssa is a hybrid between F. virginiana and F. chiloensis, a species native to Europe, South America, and western North America; there are multiple subspecies, not all of which are native to all of those areas. Wild strawberries, while small, are very sweet and mighty good eating. F. chiloensis is large and mostly tasteless. The hybrid was engineered to have both the size and sweetness.
Both native strawberries are great alternatives to turfgrass lawns or as a green mulch in gardens. #altlawn
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in various locations around the state - it is pretty ubiquitous.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?