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Wild Strawberry

Fragaria vesca

  • Name also: Woodland Strawberry
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. With runners.
  • Height: 5–20 cm (2–8 in.), runners up to 2 m (80 in.) long. Stem hairs ascending oblique–spreading.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), white, 12–18 mm (0.48–0.72 in.) broad; petals 5, quite round, touching each other or covering each others’ edges, 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in.) long. Calyx 5-lobed; with epicalyx. Stamens 20. Gynoecium separate, pistils several. Receptacle glabrous. Inflorescence a lax cyme.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette, quite long-stalked. Blade palmate, with 3 leaflets. Leaflets elliptic, wedge-shaped base, with toothed margins, both sides smoothly and sparsely haired. All margin teeth roughly the same size.
  • Fruit: Red, juicy, shiny, easily breaking off at its base, 0.5–1 cm (0.2–0.4 in.) long berry, small achenes all over surface of berry (= accessory fruit with achenes); sepals in fruiting stage descending–spreading.
  • Habitat: Pastures, banks, meadows, forest margins, rocky outcrops, broad-leaved and ridged forests, logging clearings.
  • Flowering time: May–July.

Wild strawberry has always been Finns’ favourite berry. In the days of slash-and-burn farming wild strawberries grew in culturally influenced places in fields and around people’s homes. Nowadays many Finns look back wistfully to a time when wild strawberry plants were plentiful – it seems like the happy hunting grounds of old are nowhere to be found at all any more. Wild strawberry certainly has become rarer recently, as have other plants that thrived alongside traditional agricultural methods. This downturn will continue as the forest spreads and reclaims clearings and light-loving plants like wild strawberry retreat to ever-decreasing habitats.

Wild strawberry’s natural habitat stretches to southern parts of Kainuu and the tip of the Gulf of Bothnia. It thrives on rich land and is mainly found where there are gaps within its main habitat in dry areas between watersheds. Wild strawberry grows wild in light-filled, dryish, sloping broad-leaved forests and meadows. Its northernmost, quite separate stands in Lapland are on south-facing slopes on open rocks or even on the edges of spring quagmires, where the micro-climate is milder.

Wild strawberry propagates itself efficiently with its long, delicate surface runners, which can grow up to a couple of metres in a year. Strawberry’s strong aroma might be intended to tempt particularly mammals to eat and spread its seeds because the significance of birds’ sense of smell when it comes to hunting for food is negligible. Many people are however allergic to strawberries, not just as a fruit plant but also as a medicinal herb, so young children in particular should be cautious and bear this in mind.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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