Fragaria virginiana Mill.

Wild Strawberry


CC = 3
CW = 3
MOC = 82

© DETenaglia

Family - Rosaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with short, stout rhizomes.

Stems - Aerial stems absent, but slender, prostrate to arched stolons present, these rooting at the tip, hairy, usually with 1 scalelike leaf toward the midpoint, this 3-10 mm long, simple, linear to narrowly lanceolate, entire, often wrapped around the stolon at the base.

Leaves - Rosettes at rhizome tips and rooting nodes of stolons, trifoliate, stipulate, long-petiolate, the petioles hairy. Stipules acute, 2 cm long, 5-6 mm broad, glabrous except for villous midvein. Leaflets 1.5-11.0 cm long, sessile or more commonly short-stalked, firm-textured, the margins scalloped or toothed, the terminal tooth mostly less than 1/2 as wide as and with the tip not extended beyond those of the immediately adjacent lateral ones, the upper surface sparsely to moderately hairy, green to dark green or bluish green, the undersurface nearly glabrous to densely silky-hairy, sometimes yellowish-or grayish-tinged.

Fragaria_virginiana_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Fragaria_virginiana_leaflet2.jpg Leaflet, abaxial.

© SRTurner

Fragaria_virginiana_rachis.jpg Base of leaflets.

© SRTurner

Fragaria_virginiana_leaf.jpg Pressed leaf.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Usually shorter than the leaves at both flowering and fruiting, sometimes appearing umbellate, the main stalk to 15 cm long, with appressed-ascending or more commonly spreading, fine long hairs.

Flowers - Sepals 5-10 mm long, ascending, spreading, or reflexed at fruiting, sericeous. Petals 5, white, 7-10 mm long, 5.5 mm broad, glabrous, orbicular to broadly obovate, spreading. Stamens numerous, borne at edge of receptacle. Filaments 1.5 mm long, yellow, glabrous. Anthers yellow. Pistils many. Hypanthium broadly conic, 2 mm long. Bractlets 5, linear, to 5 mm long, 1.2 mm broad, sericeous, alternating with sepals.

Fragaria_virginiana_sepals.jpg Sepals (wider) and bractlets (narrower).

© SRTurner

Fragaria_virginiana_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Fragaria_virginiana_corollas.jpg Corollas.

© SRTurner

Fragaria_virginiana_functional.jpg Stamens and pistils.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Fruits achenes positioned in shallow pits in the surface of the enlarged (to 1.5 cm) receptacle. A strawberry.

Fragaria_virginiana_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Openings of mesic to dry upland forests, savannas, prairies, ledges and tops of bluffs, and calcareous glades, fields, railroads, roadsides, and open disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - F. vesca.

Other info. - This is the wild strawberry plant, found throughout Missouri and in some form across the entire continental U.S. Plants in Missouri have been called ssp. virginiana, with two other subspecies (ssp. glauca and ssp. platypetala) being found in other geographical regions to our west. Yhe plants are unmistakable to anyone who has grown strawberries in a garden, as they closely resemble the cultivated form. The lookalike species F. vesca is much rarer in Missouri, and differs by having smaller flowers, the terminal tooth of the leaflet extending past the adjacent teeth, and fruits lying on the surface of the expanded receptacle rather than in pits.

F. virginiana is closely related to common supermarket strawberries. Those are F. xananassa Duchesne ex Rozier, hybrids of our wild species with the European species F. chiloensis. The European strawberries have good size but no flavor and our plants have good flavor but no size. The hybrid typically has both. The commercial importance of strawberries has stimulated development of numerous cultivars which differ in yield, ripening times, and flavor, and also in such morphological characters as calyx and bractlet size and the size and shape of the "berry" (which is actually a greatly expanded receptacle covered with tiny achenes). Some of these reach enormous proportions, approaching the size of small apples, but sometimes also relatively weak in flavor.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 4-7-00 and in Brown Summit, NC., 4-24-03 (DETenaglia); also at St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 5-31-2010, Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln County, MO, 4-2-2012, Tucker Prairie Natural Area, Callaway County, MO, 4-28-2016, and St. Joe State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 4-26-2020 (SRTurner).