Thursday, August 21, 2008

100 Species Challenge

1. Strawberry

We have wild strawberries all around the edges of our yard. Years ago I learned that there's more than one type of wild strawberry -- there are those that taste like strawberries, and those that are tasteless. Also, there are those that have white flowers and those that have yellow flowers.

These are the tasteless kind. In the photo we can see some of the yellow blossoms this particular plant has. I think that puts these in the realm of Duchesnea indica (which has apparently changed its name to Potentilla indica -- who knew?). True strawberries are Fragaria (for some reason I had it in my head that they are Fraxis, but I don't think there's really anything by that name).

Here is a great page on wild strawberries by Steve Brill, who knows and shares tons of information about foraging wild edible plants. He calls these yellow-flowered tasteless strawberries "wood strawberries". On the other hand, other experts say that wood strawberries have white flowers and taste. This is the problem with common names -- they aren't really too precise. Of course, as we can see by this plant's name change, Latin names aren't exactly written in stone either. Perhaps the most pertinent piece of information on Steve Brill's page is that there are no poisonous species that look like a strawberry. The information on the wood strawberry is in about the middle of the page.

Here is a wikipedia article on the plant, also called Mock Strawberry or Indian Strawberry.

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