Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry)
Fragaria virginiana - Wild Strawberry (Rose Family)Description: The wild strawberry (also known as the common strawberry) is a low perennial that forms runners and bears several small white flowers. It also bears 3-parted, long-stalked basal leaves. The flowers are approximately 3/4"(2cm) wide, with five petals and five sepals. They are round, with many stamens and pistils on a dome-like structure. The leaves are 1-1.5"(2.5-4 cm) long. They are toothed, with hairy stalks. The flower stalks are 3-6" (7.5-15 cm) tall. Fragaria virginiana bears a dry, seed-like fruit easily recognizable as the strawberry (Thieret 2001).
Habitat and Range: Fragaria virginiana generally grows in patches in open fields and edges of woods, often in disturbed areas. The plant is found all throughout North America, with the exception of the Arctic islands and Greenland (Theiret 2001).
Resource Acquisition: Fragaria virginiana uses photosynthesis to produce the sugar it uses for energy. Its root system is dense and fibrous and occurs near the soil surface (Solomon 2000). The roots radiate outward and downward in all directions (Solomon 2000). The root system forms a symbiotic relationship with endomycorrhizal bacteria (Hilty 2005).
Reproduction: Wild strawberry flowers from April to June and fruits soon after flowering (Anderson, et al. 2000).
Dispersal: Fragaria virginiana spreads by seed as well as by short rhizomes and leafless stolons (Anderson, et al. 2000). Bees are the most important pollinator for the wild strawberry, and the seeds are also spread by interaction with birds and mammals (Hilty 2005). The fruit produced by Fragaria virginiana is one of the finest and sweetest of wild strawberries. The edible portion of the strawberry is the central portion of the flower, known as the receptacle. The receptacle enlarges with maturity and becomes covered with the fruits (Thieret 2001).
Defenses and Natural Enemies: Fragaria virginiana is eaten by mammals such as the White-tailed deer, the Eastern Cottontail rabbit, and several species of squirrels, as well as birds such as the American Robin, the Northern Cardinal, and Northern Mockingbird. The flowers attract pollinators like bees, flies, and small butterflies (Hilty 2005). The caterpillars of several species of moths feed on the leaves and flowers of Fragaria virginiana (Hilty 2005). The Portola woodrat (native to California) and the valley quail also eat the fruit and leaves of Fragaria virginiana (Anderson, et al. 2000).
Other Facts: Cultivated strawberries are hybrids developed from the native Fragaria virginiana and a South American strawberry (Theiret 2001). The strawberry fruit is eaten raw and used in cooking, for juice, desserts, jam, wine, and syrup, and the leaves are used in the making of herbal teas (Robertson 2004). The leaves and roots are believed to have medicinal properties in easing digestive upset and gout, and strawberry juice is used to treat sunburn, skin blemishes, and tooth discoloration (Robertson 2004).
Anderson, M. Kat and Wayne Roderick. "Mountain Strawberry: Fragaria virginiana Duschene." National Resources Conservation Service Plant Guide. United States Department of Agriculture, 2000. Accessed 18 April 2006. Available at http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=FRVI&photoID=frvi_002_avp.tif.
Hilty, John. "Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry)." Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois. 2005. Accessed 24 April 2006. Available at http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/wld_strawberryx.htm.
Robertson, Hamish. "Fragaria (strawberry genus)." Biodiversity Explorer. 2004. Iziko Museums of Capetown. Accessed 24 April 2006. Available at http://www.museums.org.za/bio/plants/rosaceae/fragaria.htm.
Solomon, Steve. "Root Development of Vegetable Crops: Strawberry." The Soil and Health Library. 2000. Accessed 24 April 2006. Available at http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137ch18.html.
Thieret, John W. National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Eastern Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.
Categories: Plant species