Wild Strawberry

©Ian A Kirk

Wild strawberry

Scientific name: Fragaria vesca
The Wild strawberry produces miniature, edible versions of the juicy red fruits we so enjoy. Gathering wild food can be fun, but it's best to do it with an expert - come along to a Wildlife Trust event to try it.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to August

About

If you spot miniature, juicy red strawberries on the grassy banks of limestone and chalk downlands, open woodland, scrubland and railway cuttings, the chances are you are looking at a Wild Strawberry plant. Not actually the ancestor of commercial strawberries, the Wild strawberry does have an excellent flavour. With long, rooting runners, it spreads quickly and low to the ground; its white flowers appear from April to July and the tasty fruits follow.

How to identify

Wild strawberry has glossy, trefoil leaves with toothed edges and hairy undersides; white flowers with five petals and a golden centre; and distinctive, heart-shaped red fruits with tiny seeds on the outside.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

William Morris, a 19th century textile designer, artist and writer who was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, immortalised the Wild strawberry in his famous 'Strawberry thief' pattern. He was inspired by what he had seen one day in the grounds of his home at Kelmscott Manor - a hungry thrush swooping down to take a Wild Strawberry in its beak.

How people can help

Gathering wild food can be a satisfying experience and provides a chance to learn about our native plants. However, if you do fancy giving it a go, remember that it is an offence to totally uproot a wild plant and please just take what you need, leaving some for the wild creatures, too. Don't eat anything you can't identify, either - it could make you very ill. To find out more about wild plants, both edible and not, why not come along to a Wildlife Trust event? From fungi forays to woodland walks, there's plenty of opportunities to learn more about your local patch.