Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
thickleaved wild strawberry
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for Virginia straw-
berry is Fragaria virginiana Duchesne. There are four varieties of Fragaria
virginiana (all commonly called Virginia strawberry) recognized by the
PLANTS database: 1) Fragaria virginiana Duchesne ssp. glauca (S. Wat-
son) Staudt, 2) Fragaria virginiana Duchesne ssp. grayana (Vilm. ex J.
Gay) Staudt, 3) Fragaria virginiana Duchesne ssp. platypetala (Rydb.)
Staudt, and 4) Fragaria virginiana Duchesne ssp. virginiana. Of the four
subspecies, only subspecies grayana and virginiana occur in Virginia. The
Atlas of Virginia Flora lists Fragaria virginiana without subspecies design-
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: Virginia strawberry is a low, colony-forming native perennial
Leaves: A plant typically consists of several trifoliate leaves with long
hairy petioles that emerge directly from a central taproot in the ground.
Each leaflet is about 3" long and 1½" wide, pale green underneath, coarse-
ly serrated, and obovate or oval in shape. The petioles of the compound
leaves are green or dull red and about 3" long.
Flowers: Each plant can produce one or more clusters of flowers in stalks
about 3-4" long, which also emerge directly from the ground. Each flower
is about ¾" across and consists of 5 white petals. Toward the center, there
are about 25 yellow stamens surrounding a small blunt cone. There is no
noticeable floral scent.
Fruit/Seeds: Afterwards, small red drupes are produced that are about
½–¾" long, and shaped like the familiar cultivated strawberry. They are
sweet and edible.
Roots: While actively growing, wild strawberry produces long hairy run-
ners up to 2' long, which re-root to form plantlets. These runners are often
REGENERATION PROCESS: Virginia strawberry propogates itself by
reseeding and through runner plantlets.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies,
openings and edges of woodlands (including drier areas), savannas, lime-
stone glades, and areas along railroads. Wild Strawberry is able to tolerate
competition from taller plants because it develops early in the spring, and
is able to tolerate some shade later in the year. It occurs in both degraded
and high quality habitats, often not far from woodland areas.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Virginia strawberry prefers full or partial
sun and moist to slightly dry conditions. A rich loamy soil is preferred.
Wild strawberry is a cool-season plant that grows actively during the
spring and fall, but becomes dormant after setting fruit during the hot
summer months. It is an easy plant to grow, which will spread to form a
loose ground cover.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs during
late spring or early summer, and lasts about 1-2 months.
GENRAL DISTRIBUTION: Virginia strawberry is found in all states
and provinces of the continental United States and Canada.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The ecological value of Virginia straw-
berry to various insects, birds, and animals is high. The flowers attract
long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, flies, small butterflies, and skip-
pers. Among these, small bees are the most important pollinator of the
flowers; this includes such visitors as little carpenter bees, Nomadine
Cuckoo bees, Mason bees, Halictid bees, and Andrenine bees. The cater-
pillars of several species of moths feed on the foliage and flowers of wild strawberry. Other insects that feed on wild strawberry include Chacto-
siphum fragraefolii (strawberry aphid), Aphis forbesi (strawberry root
aphid), and Otiochynchus ovatus (strawberry root weevil). Various up-
land gamebirds, song birds, and mammals eat the fruit or foliage, includ-
ing such prairie inhabiting species as Tympanuchus cupido (greater prairie
chicken) and Phasianus colchicus (ring-necked pheasant). These birds and
animals help to distribute the seeds far and wide. People also nibble on the
Crooked Run Valley