Don’t Mock the Strawberries
Is there anything more perfect than the flavor of a wild strawberry? It’s that time of year again when lawns and gardens alike get covered in strawberry plants. But beware! Most of the “strawberries” we see growing wildly now are imposters!
Enter 'Duchesnea indica', or Mock Strawberry! Native to India, his deceptive little berry grows invasively in our area. While it is mostly harmless (allergic reactions have been documented) and edible, the flavor is almost nonexistent and it will gleefully crowd out other ground covers.
But we do have a native wild strawberry, 'Fragaria virginiana' or Virginia Strawberry, that, while tiny, packs a sweet strawberry flavor!
How to tell the difference?
One way is to pick the strawberry and crush it between your fingers. Wild strawberries will have a strong and distinct strawberry scent whereas the mock strawberry will smell watery.
Another way to tell the difference is to check out the bloom! The mock strawberry will have 5 yellow petals per bloom whereas the wild strawberry will have 5 white petals, much like the ones you grow in your garden.
The shape of the berry is another way to tell the difference. Mock strawberries are very round like a ball and actually grow upright on top of their stems. Wild strawberries will have the classic strawberry shape, if a bit smaller, and will hang down on the stems, again, like the strawberries you see growing in gardens.
Janet Douberly is very round, like a Media Manager, at Downtown Greens.
This article was originally published in the May 2023 edition of Front Porch Magazine. Read the full publication by using the link below.