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| Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) Varieties |
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Linda Wiebe
Posted on: June 18, 2003
Please help me! I notice that you offer a Fragaria Vesca in plug packs and they go by the common name of Alpine Strawberry. You also offer another Fragaria Vesca in seed form and they are denoted by the common name of Wild Strawberry. I thought the true Wild Strawberry was Fragaria Virginiana? Can you please clarify why both are called ‘Vesca’ and whether the seeds are from the real Wild Strawberry plant versus the Alpine Strawberry Plant? I note that ‘Vesca’ is often referred to as the European Strawberry - does that equate with the Alpine variety?
Will appreciate any help you may be able to provide (I ordered both from your online catalogue yesterday).
North American herbalists refer to wild strawberry as Fragaria vesca. For example, John Lust, in his "The Herb Book", writes: "Wild strawberry is a perennial plant found mainly in forests, clearings, and shady roadsides in Europe and northern Asia; but a variety grows also in fields and along roadsides in eastern North America." Lust gives the botanical name for wild strawberry as Fragaria vesca and I believe he is using the botanical notion of the word "variety" when he write "but a variety grows...". There are at least five botanical varieties of F. vesca including F. vesca var. americana.
It is entirely possible, however, that herbalists unwittingly are using F. virginiana and other species of wild strawberry with similar effects. The various wild species are hard to tell apart, and besides the taxonomy has historically been a bit confused, with different the taxonomists changing names and moving varieties from one species to another.
Our wild strawberry seeds, however, come from Europe. This form is truly like the types you can see in the wild with small but tasty berries.
The alpine strawberries are a selection of F. vesca called ‘Ruegen’. This is an old variety that has been in commerce for at least 30 years. Its berries are larger than the wild types, but no where near as large as the modern hybrids. Its growth habit is distinctive also in that it is runnerless and grows in compact mounds.
Herbalist John Lust added this note to his entry on wild strawberry: "Cultivated strawberries are of much less medicinal value than wild varieties," which is why we carry wild strawberry.