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Fragaria X ananassa (Duchesne ex Weston)Duchesne ex Rozier 1785
pronounced: fray-GAR-ee-uh hybrid an-NAN-ass-uh
(Rosaceae — the rose family )
common name: Strawberry
The garden strawberry is a complex hybrid species developed over many years by crossing several wild strawberry species, including species native to the New World. Fragaria virginiana occurs naturally from Newfoundland to Alberta and south to Georgia and Oklahoma. Fragaria chiloensis occurs in the west coasts of the Americas, from Alaska south to Chile. The European woodland strawberry, Fragaria vesca, also had its part in the development of the modern strawberry. The garden strawberry is grown more widely than any other cultivated fruit, being grown in temperate and subtropical climates all over the world.
The plant is a low-growing perennial with 3-palmate leaves and dentate leaflets. The individual plants are usually 10-15 cm high, and send out numerous stolons that root and give rise to new plants. The flowers are white or pink, with 5 rounded petals, and are produced over an extended period. The strawberry itself is actually a fleshy receptacle with many dry, thin walled achenes embedded in the surface. Each achene (and this is the true fruit) has a single seed.
There are hundreds of strawberry cultivars, adapted to differing climates and soils, and with differing fruit characteristics
• ‘overbearing’ cultivars produce right through the growing season;
• ‘June bearing’ produce most of their crop in spring and early summer;
• ‘day-neutral’ can produce fruit within 3 months of planting, regardless of the season.
New cultivars continue to be developed as growers search for improved flavour, productivity and resistance to diseases. Wild strawberries are still popular – I had a favourite walk in Wales where, in season, tiny delicious fruits could be had for the taking from where they grew at the side of the track.
Compared with strawberries grown in temperate climates, I must say that I find most Australian strawberries very disappointing. I am sure this is largely due to the climate, as well as to large-scale methods of production. Strawberries grown (and eaten soon after picking) in Tasmania are the nearest I have found in taste to English ones. Many people feel that the taste has been bred out of modern strawberries. As late as the 1870s, they were available, at least in America, with flavours such as apple, apricot, cherry, grape, mulberry, raspberry and pineapple. The flavour of strawberries is biochemically complex, and a small change in the constituent compounds is all that’s needed for a shift to an entirely different flavour.
Although it is possible to grow strawberries from seed, both garden and commercial propagation is done from the runners that the plants produce freely. Strawberries are very desirable to creatures other than humans – they have to be guarded against possums, birds, slugs and snails, and even some dogs will compete for the fruit.
The larvae of a number of Lepidoptera feed on the strawberry plant, including:
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2012
Page last updated 18th March 2018