Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Wild Strawberry - Fragaria virginiana   P. Miller
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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AuthorP. Miller
DistributionEssentially statewide, though perhaps absent from a few far eastern counties.

This is a wide-ranging species, present essentially over most of North America, though scarce in most of FL.
AbundanceCommon to very common across the mountains and Piedmont; generally common in most of the northern half of the Coastal Plain, but infrequent in much of the southern and far eastern portions.
HabitatThis is an open country species, found in sunny to mostly sunny places, such as old fields, wooded borders, powerline clearings, meadows, and other similar places. It can occurs around grassy balds, and other high elevation wooded openings.
PhenologyBlooms from March to June, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThe two species of "wild strawberries" are quite similar, this being very common and familiar, and the other -- F. americana -- being very rare in the state. Each is a short plant, growing barely 6" tall, with scattered basal leaves and a flowering stem from this base. Each has leaves as three distinct leaflets, rounded in shape, about 1-1.5" long and slightly less wide, with toothed margins. In F. americana, the principal lateral veins diverge from the midrib at roughly an angle of 45 degrees, whereas in this species the lateral veins diverge from the axil at a shallower angle, around 30 degrees. The inflorescences are different; this species has flowers with very similar pedicel lengths and the cluster is rounded or broad (in a corymb); in the rare species, the flowers are in a raceme or panicle, and thus longer than wide. Also, the flowers (5 rounded white to creamy-white petals) of this species are larger than on the other, about 2/3" across, whereas flowers of the rare species are small, with a spread of barely 1/2" at most. Each species has a small strawberry fruit, but this species has the calyx lobes appressed to the developing fruit, whereas F. americana has them spreading away from the developing fruit. The most obvious characters to look for in this species are the flower cluster that is broad and flattened to rounded, and flowers at least nickel-sized or larger.
Taxonomic CommentsThe species is often divided into subspecies or varieties, but Weakley (2018) does not list other taxa.

Other Common Name(s)Virginia Strawberry
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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