Waldsteinia fragarioides (Barren Strawberry)
|Also known as:
|part shade, shade; moist to dry woods, pine forest
|April - May
|4 to 6 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Yellow flowers in sparse clusters on a branching stem, only a few flowers are open at a time. Flowers are around ½ inch across with 5 round to elliptic petals with numerous yellow stamens in the center. The petals alternate with five sharply pointed sepals that are shorter than the petals. Multiple small leaflet-like bracts are often present where the flower stalks diverge at the top of the stem. The outside of the sepals and the stems are hairy.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal and palmately compound in groups of 3 on a stalk about as long as the leaf blade. Leaflets are fan-shaped, 1 to 1½ inches long and as wide, straight tapered below the middle, the upper half rounded and coarsely toothed and often obscurely 3-lobed, finely hairy to nearly smooth throughout. It can create large colonies from creeping rhizomes.
Fruit is a seed head made up of 2-6 dry seeds (achenes).
Barren Strawberry, sometimes known as Geum fragarioides, is fairly common just east across the border throughout northern Wisconsin and eastward. But at the extreme NW extent of its range, it is rare in Minnesota where it is limited to a few scattered populations in our north central and northeastern counties. It was listed as a state Special Concern species by the DNR in 1984. Its preferred habitat is upland conifer or conifer hardwood mixed forests in moist to dry, but not wet soils, and, while it can tolerate both full sun and deep shade its preference seems to be a broken canopy. As its common suggests, it looks much to be like a strawberry except for its bright yellow flowers. When it is in flower, it is unlikely to be confused with anything else except perhaps Common Cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex) at a glance. That however produces prolific runners and its compound leaves have 5 leaflets. Without the flower it can be distinguished from our native strawberries (Fragaria) by its broader leaflets with coarsely toothed or lobed edges, vs. the shiny upper surface and evenly serrated edges of F. vesca. It also produces no fleshy fruit and lacks the above ground runners found in strawberries. While the DNR lists var. fragarioides in Minnesota, there is no information available about other varieties, either distribution range or description.
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- a colony of Barren Strawberry
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Carlton County.
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