Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry)
|Also known as:||American Wood Strawberry|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; average to moist soil, woods, thickets|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Clusters of 2 to 5 flowers, generally blooming 1 or a few at a time, on a slender stem that usually exceeds the height of surrounding leaves. Flowers are typically less than ½ inch wide with 5 round to oval white petals, about 20 yellow stamens surrounding a yellow center, and sharply pointed sepals as long as or longer than the petals. A small leaflet-like bract is usually present where flower stalks diverge at the top of the stem.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal and palmately compound in groups of 3. Leaflets are 1 to 1½ inches long, ¾ to 1 inch wide, coarsely toothed, nearly hairless on upper surface, prominently veined, oval to egg-shaped, rounded towards the tip and tapered toward the base. Leaflets are stalkless, the compound leaf on a long sparsely hairy stem. The tooth at the very tip of a leaflet is mostly about equal in size and extending beyond the teeth on either side of it, though may be smaller on some leaflets. Stems are above ground runners (stolons) that root at tips from which a crown of leaves emerge.
Notes:To say the least this small red strawberry can be easily confused with another small red strawberry, the closely related Fragaria virginiana, especially as both are widespread and common. The 2 can be distinguished by the following: terminal tooth being mostly equal in size to side teeth on F. vesca, consistently smaller on F. virginiana; F. vesca leaflets are sparsely hairy, more prominently veined with large teeth, F. virginiana is more softly veined and toothed, and hairier overall; F. vesca fruit has seeds raised on the surface, F. virginiana fruit is more globular with seeds in shallow pits; F. vesca flowers are fewer in number than F. virginiana and typically rise above the leaves, where F. virginiana flower stems are typically shorter than the leaf stems; F. vesca prefers moister, shadier habitat than F. virginiana. This species is native to both old and new worlds. There are 4 varieties, with var. americana native to Minnesota.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in various locations around the state - it is pretty ubiquitous.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?