Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Northern Barren-strawberry - Waldsteinia fragarioides   (Michaux) Trattinick
Members of Rosaceae:
Members of Waldsteinia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
Author(Michaux) Trattinick
DistributionThe old Waldsteinia fragarioides has been recently split by some references into two species; the more northern one still retaining the name of W. fragarioides, with the southern form being named as either F. doniana (as in Weakley 2020) or as F. parviflora (as in Flora of North America). These references indicate that the split out fragarioides ranges south to NC, and that doniana/parviflora ranges both north and south of NC and is almost certainly the more widespread one in the state. However, one website editor (Sorrie), as well as some other websites (e.g., Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora), feel strongly that few specimens can be reliably separated into the two species; in fact, the SERNEC listing shows that nearly all herbaria have not attempted to separate out their specimens, if even possible to do so! As a result, the editors have decided to put all records for these two (combined) onto the W. doniana map (see that account), for the time being. Sadly, there is little detailed geographic information (in text form or on other maps) to show where these two forms overlap in NC, if anywhere.

This is a Northern species, ranging from eastern Canada south mainly to VA and TN, but extending south into NC, probably at least into the Piedmont and mountains.
AbundanceThe NCNHP considers the split out W. fragarioides as a Watch List species (W3 -- Questionable Documentation), with a State Rank of SU (Undetermined) for now. Weakley's (2020) map shows it as "rare" in both the Mountains and the Piedmont, and thus it seems to be much scarcer in the state than is W. doniana; his map shows that species as "uncommon" in the Piedmont and "rare" in the Mountains and Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis species prefers rich, rocky soil. It grows along wooded stream banks, along bluffs and cliffs where moist or wet, or in rocky forests. Habitat distinction between this species and W. doniana is not apparent.
PhenologyBlooms from late March to May, and fruits in May and June.
IdentificationThis is a low species with evergreen leaves, barely reaching 1 foot long or tall. The several leaves are basal, on petioles about 2 inches long, and three-parted, cut to the base. Each leaflet is wedge-shaped or fan-shaped, about 1-1.2 inches long and across, toothed or scalloped on the margins (often incised), and quite shiny; they turn bronze in color in winter. The often several flower stalks are leafless, about 4-5 inches tall, and contain a few flowers at the tips. Each flower is bright yellow, with 5 petals that are somewhat elliptical, and the spread flower is about 3/4-inch across. The sepals are shorter than the petals. In the other similar species -- W. doniana -- the petals are 2.5-4 mm long, only as long as the sepals, as opposed to 4-10 mm long in this species; thus, the spread flower in the other species is only about 1/3-inch across. The Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora indicates that in that state the characters of these two are tricky to use and that there may be introgression of flower characters there. The same could be true in NC. At any rate, this is a much more striking species in bloom than is W. doniana, and some flowers are as large as many of the large-flowered buttercup (Ranunculus) species in the state.
Taxonomic CommentsSee above. This is the Northern form of the former Waldsteinia fragarioides. Weakley (2018) had moved the three Waldsteinia species into the broad genus Geum but has since moved then back to Waldsteinia in 2020. There is certainly concern that such a split of the original fragarioides into two full species (instead of designating them as subspecies or varieties, if even that) is not convincing.

Other Common Name(s)Appalachian Barren-strawberry. The former name of "Barren Strawberry" referred to the original species before the split. Thus, modifier names (and a hyphen) are now needed, and are used on this website.
State RankSU
Global RankG5
State StatusW3
US Status
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