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Fragaria virginiana

Wild strawberry

Plant Details

Common Name: Wild strawberry
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Mature Height: <6"
Sun Requirement: Sun, Sun to part shade, Part shade to shade
Moisture Requirement: Dry, Dry - medium
Flower Color: White
Bloom Time: Spring (May or earlier), Early summer (June - July)
Seed Collection Date: Early summer (June - July)

Fragaria virginiana Wild strawberry
Fragaria virginiana Wild strawberry
Fragaria virginiana Wild strawberry

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Fragaria is from the Latin fraga, meaning strawberry; virginiana is from the Latin for ‘of Virginia’.

Native Habitat

Woodland openings, meadows, prairies, limestone glades and cleared areas including roadsides.

Garden Uses

Wild strawberry is an excellent ground cover under shrubs. It is useful to control erosion on slopes, but will not form a solid cover in all situations, so best used in conjunction with other plants. Fruiting does require full sun. Strawberries planted in deciduous shade will thrive, but produce less fruit than in the open.


Wild strawberry is a ground hugging perennial that sprawls along the ground and often forms large colonies. The plants spread easily by runners to form patches. Wild strawberry is one of the parent plants of the cultivated strawberry. Historically, many plants in this genus were mulched with straw in order to combat the possible onset of fungal diseases, hence the common name of strawberry.

Leaves and Stems

The 6” long hairy petioles (leaf stems) arise from the base of the plant. Each petiole bears a single compound leaf or a loose cluster of flowers. Each compound leaf has three coarsely toothed leaflets, each to about 1” long. Leaf edges have teeth. The leaves are semi-evergreen and are tinged with red in fall and winter.


Five-petaled, radially symmetric, white flowers with numerous yellow-anthers grow to 3/4” across and bloom from April to June in flat umbel-like clusters (4-6 flowers each) located separate from and below the leaves on stalks that often do not exceed the length of the leaves.


Flowers give way to achene-dotted ovoid fruits (strawberries) which mature to red in a much smaller size (to 1/2”) than fruits produced by cultivated strawberry plants. Seeds are embedded on the surface of the fruit. Botanically, the achenes (seeds) are the true fruits and the red strawberries are actually false fruits (enlarged flower receptacles). The fruits develop in June.

Animal Associates

Wild strawberry is a host plant for numerous small moths including grizzled skipper, Smith’s dart, purple-lined sallow, and crocus geometer.  In addition, the fruits are eaten by many small mammals and birds.  


Vegetative propagation by separating rooted plantlets in spring or early summer is the best way to produce more plants because seed germination is not usually successful.

Ethnobotanical Uses

Fruits are quite small but very tasty and may be eaten fresh off the vine or cooked into a variety of dishes including pies and jams.

Garden Location

Library Garden, Teaching Garden (see garden map)


Missouri Botanical Garden

Native Plant Trust 

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Plant Profile by Kathy Kling