Northern Ontario Plant Database
Fragaria virginiana Mill.
En: wild strawberry
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
General: A perennial forb, scapose, to 15 cm tall, growing from a thick rhizome and spreading by long, slender stolons, often forming extensive colonies. 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. Leaflets obovate, with cuneate bases, rounded apices, and coarsely serrate margins; leaflets on short stalks (petiolules), terminal leaflet to 10 cm long. The terminal tooth of the blade is shorter than the two adjacent teeth, a feature that distinguishes Fragaria virginiana from other species.
Flowers: Bisexual or with unisexual flowers on different plants (dioecious). Flowers solitary or 2– several in an umbel-like cluster (umbellate cyme) usually shorter in height than the leaves. Flowers measure 0.6–2.5 cm across; unisexual female (pistillate) flowers are usually much smaller than male (staminate) flowers. Calyx 5-lobed, subtended by another whorl of bracts, the epicalyx, and fused to the base of the receptacle, forming a hypanthium. Calyx lobes 4–10 mm long, green, curved forward and somewhat clasping the developing fruit; petals white, 5, orbicular to obovate; stamens numerous; pistils numerous, not fused together (apocarpous), situated in depressions on the concave surface of the receptacle, which enlarges greatly in fruit. Flowering from April to July.
Fruit: The swollen red receptacle, a type of accessory fruit called a pseudocarp, bears many small achenes, 1.3–1.6 mm long, which are slightly embedded in obvious depressions on the surface of the receptacle. 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 wild strawberry fruits (pseudocarps) can reach 2 cm in diameter and are globose to ovoid.
Habitat and Range: Fields, wood borders, lakeshores, streambanks, meadows, and disturbed ground. The wild strawberry is native to North America; it extends throughout northern Ontario.
Similar Species: The woodland strawberry, Fragaria vesca, also occurs in northern Ontario. The wild strawberry can be distinguished from the woodland strawberry (F. vesca) by the length of the terminal tooth and the morphology of the fruit. In Fragaria virginiana, the terminal tooth is shorter than the two adjacent teeth and the achenes occur in depression on the fleshy receptacle, while in F. vesca, the terminal tooth extends beyond the two adjacent teeth and the achenes sit on the surface of the fleshy receptacle.
Internet Images: The Fragaria virginiana page from Missouriplants.com.
- written by Derek Goertz and Susan J. Meades
Back to species list