Plant of the Week

Fragaria vesca range map.
Fragaria vesca range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Fragaria vesca.
Figure 1. Woodland strawberry plant in bloom. Photo by Merel Black.

Fragaria vesca.
Figure 2. Wild strawberry plant in bloom. Photo by Merel Black.

Fragaria vesca.
Figure 3. Left: Woodland strawberry, showing large central leaf tooth. Right: Wild strawberry, showing small central leaf tooth. Photos by Merel Black.

Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca L.)

By Mark Jaunzems

Woodland strawberry (Figure 1) is related to the more common wild strawberry (Fragaria virginica)(Figure 2). When found in fruit the two species are fairly easy to tell apart as the fruits of woodland strawberry are more conical in shape and the seeds project out of the surface of the fruit, whereas the seeds of wild strawberry are imbedded into the fruits and the entire fruit is more round in shape. Another way to tell them apart without any fruit being present is to look carefully at the tip of the central leaflet, in woodland strawberry the most central leaf tooth is about the same size as the adjacent teeth and its length is equal to or exceeds the leaf teeth on either side. In the more widespread wild strawberry this central tooth is smaller in total size and also shorter in length than the teeth on either side. See figure 3 for comparison of the leaves of both species.

Woodland strawberry occurs in a wide range of habitats that include hardwood forests, mixed woods, swamps; edges of woods, cedar swamps; rocky woodland and damp ledges. (Voss, 1985) Wild strawberry also has a wide variety of habitats but in general it occurs in drier, more disturbed, and more open sunny sites than woodland strawberry. (Voss, 1985) Woodland strawberry flowers quite early in the growing season at around the same time as the peak blooming time of common dandelion, (Taraxicum officinale). This can vary from April to June depending on where in the range the plants are located. The flowers of woodland and wild strawberry are quite similar (see figures 1 and 2 for comparison).

Woodland strawberry has a wide range that includes the southern provinces of Canada and all but the U.S. states of Alaska, Nevada, and a band of the southeastern states from Kansas east to Florida. Wild strawberry is even more widespread and occurs in all U.S. states, except Hawaii, and in all Canadian provinces.

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Horned Dandelion (Taraxacum ceratophorum).
Horned Dandelion (Taraxacum ceratophorum)