Strawberry Plants: Field Guide Information

Three species of wild strawberries are indigenous to the United States, for instance, common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), the hillside strawberry (F. vesca) and the sand strawberry (F. chiloensis). Those strawberries plus many hybrid cultivars of domestic strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) grow on compressed stems known as shingles that send out aboveground stolons or runners which develop roots to form new plants. Domestic cultivars of strawberries can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10.

Common Wild Strawberry

The common wild strawberry (F. Virginiana) is a cool season perennial plant which forms colonies in moist soil the edges of woodlands and savannas. It goes dormant after posture one-half to three-quarter-inch-long berries in the summer. The strawberries bear tiny seeds on sunken pits on their surface. Its leaves develop on hairy, dull red stems plus it sends out dull crimson runners or stolons as many as 2 feet long. Roots growing from such runners turn into new plants.

Hillside Wild Strawberry

The hillside wild strawberry (F. vesca) rises 4 to 8 inches tall and yields an edible strawberry about one-half inch, somewhat smaller than the common wild strawberry. It bears blossoms and strawberries simultaneously in the summertime. Unlike the common wild strawberry, its seeds develop directly on the surface of their strawberries, not in small seams. The Hillside strawberry is usually grown as an ornamental due to the small size of its fruit.

Sand Wild Strawberry

The main distinctions between the sand strawberry (F. chiloensis), also called the coast or beach strawberry, and other wild strawberry species is its habitat as well as the size of its strawberries. It sorts lush mats 6 to 12 inches high on sandy beaches and coastal dunes and bluffs from California to Alaska. Though its growing habits are very similar to F. Virginiana and F. vesca, its strawberry is larger. It may withstand light foot traffic and is sometimes grown as a decorative replacement for yards.

Domestic Strawberries

The national strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) is a cross involving the common wild strawberry as well as the sand strawberry and yields larger fruits. The many hybrid cultivars vary greatly in the size and shape of the strawberries. The three main varieties of domestic strawberries are June bearers, everbearers and day-neutrals. June bearers yield one harvest in June and July. Everbearers produce one harvest from June through early July and another in the autumn. Day-neutrals yield strawberries throughout the spring and summer growing season except during extremely hot weather. June bearers typically yield the most strawberries. Everbearers and day-neutrals yield smaller strawberries and fewer of these. June bearers produce more runners than everbearers or day-neutrals. All varieties will remain productive for three to four years.

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