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Plant Description


Fragaria vesca L.

En: woodland strawberry
Fr: frasier à vaches, fraisier des bois
Oj: ode'imin

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Fragaria vescaflpl Fragaria vescafrpl Fragaria vescafrt


General: A perennial forb, scapose, to 15 cm tall, spreading by long slender stolons that arise from a thick rhizome. The long petioles and scape are pubescent.

Leaves: Basal, trifoliate, long-petioled, with a pair of stipules, to about 2 cm long, partially fused to the base of the petiole. Blade rather thin-textured (membranaceous); leaflets obovate, with cuneate bases, blunt apices, and coarsely serrate margins; leaflet stalks (petiolules) are absent. The terminal tooth of each leaflet is characteristically longer than the adjacent teeth.

Flowers: Bisexual; flowers solitary or up to 9 arranged in a raceme that usually extends above the leaves. Flowers 1–1.5 cm across. Calyx 5-lobed, subtended by another whorl of bracts, the epicalyx, and fused to the base of the receptacle, forming a hypanthium. Calyx lobes green, spreading or reflexed in fruit; petals white, 5, orbicular, about 1 cm long; stamens numerous; pistils numerous, not fused together (apocarpous), attached to the concave surface of the receptacle, which enlarges in fruit. Flowering from May to August.

Fruit: The swollen red receptacle, a type of accessory fruit called a pseudocarp, bears many minute achenes, 1–1.3 mm long, scattered over its surface. The juicy, edible pseudocarp is a fruitlike structure composed of tissue derived from some portion of the flower other than the ovary wall – the receptacle in this case. The achenes, commonly mistaken for seeds, are the true fruits of the strawberry. Mature woodland strawberry fruits (pseudocarps) grow to 1 cm in diameter and are narrowly ovoid to conical.

Habitat and Range: Rocky woods, openings, lakeshores, streambanks, and meadows. Fragaria vesca var. vesca is native to Europe and introduced in North America; var. americana is native to eastern North America.

Similar Species: The wild strawberry (F. virginiana) is more commonly encountered in northern Ontairo; it can be distinguished from the woodland strawberry, Fragaria vesca, by the morphology of its leaves and fruit. In F. vesca, the terminal tooth of the central leaflet extends beyond the two adjacent teeth and the achenes sit on the surface of the fleshy receptacle, while in F. virginiana the terminal tooth is shorter than the two adjacent teeth and the achenes are slightly imbedded in shallow pits on the fleshy receptacle.

Internet Images: The Fragaria vesca page from Skye Flora.
The Fragaria vesca page from virtuellan floran, a Swedish website, with text only in Swedish, but with excellent clickable thumbnails and links to Hulten & Fries' circumboreal maps! These can be accessed through the 'Norra halvklotet' button. Note in particular the reflexed calyx of the fruits.

– written by Derek Goertz and Susan J. Meades

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