Potentilla indica (Mock Strawberry)
|Also known as:||False Strawberry, Indian Strawberry|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; disturbed soil; lawns, woods, stream banks, fields, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||April - August|
|Plant height:||3 to 5 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single flower is at the end of a naked stalk that arises from a leaf node. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across with 5 yellow petals, numerous yellow-tipped stamens, and 5 green pointed-tipped sepals that are somewhat shorter than the petals.
Surrounding the base of the flower are 5 short leaf-like bracts, each 3-lobed, spreading to descending. The sepals, bracts and flower stalks are all sparsely to moderately hairy.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal and palmately compound in groups of 3, and evergreen. Leaflets are ½ to 2 inches long, up to 1¼ inch wide, oval to egg-shaped, rounded to bluntly pointed at the tip, rounded to wedge-shaped at the base, bluntly toothed around the edges, sparsely hairy on both surfaces, especially along major veins on the underside. Leaflets are very short stalked, the compound leaf on a long sparsely hairy stalk. Stems are above ground runners (stolons) that root at tips from which a crown of leaves emerge.
Fruit is erect, berry-like, round, about ½ inch diameter, bright red at maturity. Tiny red seeds are raised on the surface giving it a bumpy texture. The persistent bracts and sepals tend to become more reflexed (downward pointing) in fruit. Fruit is edible but dry and tasteless.
Mock Strawberry, also known as Duchesnea indica, is an introduction from Asia, planted as an ornamental or ground cover and has been known to escape cultivation. It is a branching, sprawling plant that is low to the ground, only reaching a few inches tall, and can reroot where the leaf nodes touch the ground, creating dense patches. While the yellow flowers are pretty typical for a Potentilla species, the rest of the plant more closely resembles our native Strawberries (Fragaria). Strawberries have clusters of white flowers, the juicy, tasty fruits nodding at maturity, where Mock Strawberry flowers are single and the dry, tasteless fruit erect. Native strawberries also lack the 3-lobed bracts around the base of the flower/fruit.
While as of this writing there are no herbarium records for any Minnesota populations, it has started showing up with some frequency at reporting sites such as iNaturalist and EDDMapS. Those reports put it primarily in parks and nature centers, mostly in wooded areas and near residential neighborhoods. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has designated it invasive or potentially so; we won't argue with that. If you see it, report it.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Louisiana. Potentilla indica dense mat by Lamiot, via Wikimedia Commons, used under CC BY 3.0
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
on: 2021-08-02 21:34:15
In my excitement to plant wild strawberry, I both germinated Fragaria virginiana seeds from a native plant nursery *and* transplanted "woodland strawberry" from a neighbor. The neighbor's plants produced yellow flowers and flavorless fruit and I assumed it must be our native Waldsteinia fragarioides and let it stay for a year. I now realize it is Potentilla indica. I want to rip them out but they're mixed in with the f. virginiana I germinated and most of the plants don't have flowers or fruit anymore. Is there a sure way to tell them apart by just the leaves/stolons? (From pictures online, it seems like f. virginiana leaves are more sharply serrated. Is that reliable?) Also, does p. indica always escape via stolen or can it also spread by seed? (It's physically hemmed in, so I'm wondering how prompt I need to be in getting rid of it.)
on: 2021-08-03 06:39:53
Anne, assume it also spreads by seed so get rid of it as quickly as you can. To distinguish it from Fragaria virginiana, look for the smaller tooth at the tip of the leaflet. Good luck with it.
on: 2022-05-27 14:46:31
Removed from a garden in Saint Paul near Hamline University
on: 2022-07-01 18:54:41
Planting native prairie and these are now showing after 1 season. Unsure if animal activity have deposited seeds while browsing. 2 confirmed so far in 2 acres.
on: 2022-09-07 22:03:48
I have mock strawberry in my shaded front yard, not in the sunny backyard. We've lived here for 20 years, I don't remember when I first noticed it, it's been at least several years. Today is when I first realized it's not native and possibly invasive. I normally don't use herbicide, but likely will to kill this.