Wood Strawberry


Fragaria vesca (fra-gair-ia: Roman word for strawberries; ves-ca: thin)

Petals 5, white to pinkish, nearly circular, ¼–½” long [6–12 mm]; sepals apparently 10; stamens 20–25; berry up to ½” long [12 mm], bearing seeds on its surface; most leaflets minutely hairy on top, veins recessed; leaves ternate, toothed coarsely and ± evenly, on hairy leafstalks; 3–8″ tall [7–20 cm], with long reddish runners.

Habitat: From low forest and aspen groves to subalpine basins; moderately shade-tolerant; ALL.

Similar: Comparing five white-flowered brambles and strawberries, Dwarf Bramble, Rubus lasiococcus, has 3 leaflet-like lobes, not leaflets, as they are rarely divided all the way to the base; Snow Bramble, Rubus nivalis, has small prickles; Strawberry Bramble, Rubus pedatus, has 5 completely separated leaflets; Blueleaf Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana, has 3 leaflets hairless on top, and mostly grows east of the Cascades; Wood Strawberry has 3 leaflets minutely hairy on top;

Natural History: Being the common strawberry of Europe, this is the one served for beaucoup de Euros at Michelin-Four-Star restaurants. Enjoy! Mountain tribes used the leaves and roots as well, mainly as poultices and as antidiarrheal teas.

Commercial strawberries are a complex hybrid derived mainly from two other species native to the Northwest: F. chiloensis of the coastal lowlands, and F. virginiana of the interior. None of them had big berries before the breeding began.

This article and photo are adapted from Northwest Mountain Wildflowers, an app for iPhone and iPod.