|Here is mock strawberry with its bright yellow flower |
and trifoliate leaves. These leaves are evergreen here in zone 6.
Indian strawberry is an exotic species from southern Asia imported to the US as an ornamental plant and has widely naturalized over the years. The 'Indian' in the name refers to a region of Asia, not Native Americans.
Both plants have similar trifoliate leaves with bluntly serrated (toothed) edges. They each form tight clumps of basal leaves, spreading by above ground runners. Also, they each produce bright red fruits with seeds on the surface. The most obvious difference is the flower color, Virginia strawberries have white, 5-petaled flowers, while those of mock strawberry are bright yellow.
|This newly planted Virginia strawberry has not settled in enough to flower. |
The leaves are persistent through the winter, but these will turn red,
adding to winter interest.
Another difference is in the fruit. The seeds of Virginia strawberry are located in depressions on the surface of the red 'berry'. Mock strawberry seeds are actually in projections above the fruit's surface. Also the fruit from mock strawberry is dry and tasteless compared to the sweet, juicy fruit from the Virginia strawberry.
These differences make it easy to tell the two plants apart when they are in bloom or fruit, but what about the rest of the year. I was looking for a definitive feature to rely on. Many times botanical descriptions depend on doing a comparison, e.g. more or less hairy, or 'broader' leaf. I was looking for a yes or no test that I can use quickly while pulling weeds.
|Here are both surfaces of the leaves of mock strawberry. |
The arrow at left points out the longger terminal tooth.
|Here are both leaf surfaces of Virginia strawberry. Again, |
the arrow points to the terminal tooth on the leaf, which is
distinctly smaller than its nearest neighbors.