A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: Wild strawberries, false strawberries and "real strawberries"

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13 February 2015

Wild strawberries, false strawberries and "real strawberries"

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So this weekend there is supposed to be a massive snowstorm and windstorm and POOR BOSTON.  I am stocking up on water and milk and candles and books, but in the meantime, let's think SPRING, shall we?  In particular, let's think strawberries :)  The common queen of jams, strawberry just screams summer, but I want to focus on strawberries in the spring.

The REAL DEAL in my garden

Have you ever seen plants that look like these in the lawn or crawling around in your flower beds?  Chances are they are not your garden variety strawberry,  You either have real wild strawberries (a species of Fragaria), or False strawberry (Duchesnia indica). They will look very similar. Real Fragaria strawberries have a wonderful flavor, but are very delicate when ripe and squish oh so easily. Duchesnia fruits are dry and flavorless. I would NOT recommend eating the Duchesnia; one website ( http://www.netside.com/~lcoble/bible/plantad.html ) claims that it is highly poisonous, although I can't find another reference on that. I've tasted (but not eaten them) and didn't get sick, I suppose you could do that to see what kind you have. A safer way to tell -- Duchesnia has yellow flowers whereas Fragaria has white.

Commercial strawberries are so big because they are triploid. That is, they have 3 sets of chromosomes, whereas most plants and animals have 2 sets. In the instance of the strawberry, this gets translated into bigger fruit that lasts a lot longer. It does, however, seem to sacrifice flavor. Real wild strawberries have a more intense flavor. Also, because the commercial strawberries are triploid, they are sterile and the seeds can't germinate (notice you've never seen strawberry seeds for sale!) Bananas are like this too. Being triploid, their seeds are sterile and therefore tiny. Natural bananas have seeds the size of peppercorns! This isn't the case for strawberries though.

OK - so if you have REAL wild strawberries, you CAN try to cultivate them, but only to increase their yield. I don't know how much disturbance they will take, though. If it were me, I'd just try to encourage them in place by keeping the area relatively weed-free and watered during drought. Not sure if they would stand transplanting to the garden, but you could try it with a few of them to see if they take off.  How to propagate?  Those little runners (the red stem-like guys in the first photo) will do it for you if you let them.  The "mother" strawberry plant sends out those runners, they attach and root in the ground nearby and before you know it, a baby plant is born.  Move those baby plants where you want them and voila!  Strawberry field!

OK - perhaps not that successful, but certainly a few new plants :)

Now hunker up for those chilling winds and snows and THINK OF STRAWBERRIES!


Prince Snow Farm Monday, February 16, 2015  

I have been trying to think spring too in the midst of feet of snow and below zero temps and hurricane force winds! My garden is calling to me.

Amy Renea Tuesday, February 17, 2015  

It is such a long winter this year!! Though for us in Pennsylvania, we should be grateful it was not like last year. ...and grateful we are not currently in Boston. I feel bad for all the true North Easterners!

tamong peng Tuesday, February 17, 2015  

i very like with strawberry :)

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