Whether you’re looking to plant wild strawberries in your garden or fancy a snack while you’re out on the hiking trail, you’ll want to make sure that they are safe to eat.
There are a lot of people that will tell you wild strawberries are not edible but this isn’t actually true.
In fact, wild strawberries are not only safe to eat, they’re also delicious and packed with nutrients.
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What Are Wild Strawberries?
To call them by their proper name, fragaria virginiana, wild strawberries are a plant that comes from the rose family.
You’ll normally find them growing in the northern hemisphere and just like their cousins, these plants produce small red fruits.
The wild strawberry plant is somewhat different to the domesticated version. These plants produce a runner which moves along the ground before taking root.
When it does, the plant begins to grow. Compared to domestic strawberries, the fruits produced by a wild strawberry plant have vastly more flavor.
That Said – The fruits are a little darker and much smaller than regular strawberries and have a more similar appearance to white strawberries. There are some that are as tiny as a pinky fingernail while others can grow to over an inch.
Just like other types of strawberry, wild strawberries have their seeds on the outside and these are also edible.
However, while both the seeds and fruits can be eaten, they’re not commercially cultivated because of their low yield.
Can You Eat Wild Strawberries?
There is a lot of hearsay that dictates wild strawberries are toxic but this is a common misconception.
Quite the opposite, wild strawberries make a tasty and healthy treat. It is worth keeping in mind that there are different types of wild strawberries and one of these might not be as tasty as the true wild strawberry.
Mock wild strawberries are just as safe to eat as true wild strawberries but they leave behind a less than pleasant aftertaste.
They won’t do you any harm but it’s worth avoiding them if you want a truly delicious piece of fruit.
Wild strawberries, in any of their forms, are not poisonous to humans. You can eat them in any of the same ways that you would eat commercially grown strawberries.
This is even true of mock wild strawberries, if you can get over the weird aftertaste.
Keep In Mind – The only time we would tell you to avoid wild strawberries is if you know you have an existing allergy to regular strawberries as you’ll likely experience the same effect.
How To Identify Wild Strawberries
Identifying wild strawberries is pretty easy since the fruits look somewhat similar to regular strawberries.
However, one key difference is that wild strawberries tend to be a much darker red than their commercially grown counterparts and of course, they’re a lot smaller.
Another difference is that, if you look at the underside of a wild strawberry, you will notice little hairs which may not be present on a regular strawberry.
If the plant has not yet flowered or fruited and you’re simply curious to know whether you are looking at a wild strawberry plant then looking at the leaves will tell you a lot about the plant.
Wild strawberry plants may have green or bluish leaves which are trifolate and have toothed edges.
Usually, they will be a lighter shade of green underneath. Younger plants may have slightly shinier leaves and the color will become darker as the plant ages.
Before the fruit comes through, wild strawberry plants will flower. This typically happens between the months of April and June.
Wild strawberry plants may produce white or pink flowers. These small flowers have five petals.
Finally – You can identify a wild strawberry plant by looking at the fruit and this is one of the easiest ways to tell that this is the plant you are looking at.
As we have mentioned, the fruit of the wild strawberry plant doesn’t look too dissimilar to a commercial strawberry.
It’ll have a deep red color which is darker than what you might be used to seeing and is a little smaller. The top of the strawberry might be white or at least lighter than the rest of the fruit.
Are There Different Types Of Wild Strawberries?
As well as having the mock wild strawberry, there are various types that you can grow at home and enjoy at mealtimes.
Standard wild strawberries will produce blooms followed by their edible fruits which tend to come out in the early summer.
If you’re looking to grow wild strawberries, then you will need to make sure that you can provide the right conditions for them.
Usually, these plants will thrive in zones 3 to 10.
But it’s also important to choose the right variety as this will impact how good the fruits are to eat:
- Virginia wild strawberries are the most common types for home growers. The berries are quite small but they’re extremely tasty. What’s more, the light green leaves make for an attractive display in the garden.
- Coast wild strawberries, sometimes known as beach wild strawberries, have darker, more shiny leaves. While these look lovely, the berries don’t taste quite as good so if you’re looking for a yield you can eat, this might not be the best pick.
- Woodland wild strawberries have much larger leaves and flowers than other varieties and require much more moist conditions owing to the fact that they naturally grow in wooded areas. You’ll find that the berries are incredibly flavorful and often a lot bigger than other types of wild strawberry plant.
Are Wild Strawberries Good For You?
It’s one thing to be aware that wild strawberries are a delicious snack but knowing that they’re also really good for you is a bonus!
There is actually proof that wild strawberries have medicinal properties.
It is possible to use the leaves of the plant as an astringent which is very effective in dealing with digestive issues such as diarrhea.
You can use the leaves either fresh or dried to enjoy these benefits. When looking to treat diarrhea, you can also use the root of the plant.
What’s More – It’s been demonstrated that the leaves are also effective in tackling symptoms associated with conditions like arthritis and gout.
You can crush the fruits of the wild strawberry plant and use these to treat sunburn by crushing them into a pulp.
The berries are also renowned for their ability to cleanse the liver as well as bringing down a fever.
At an even simpler level, eating wild strawberries gives you a whole host of important nutrients.
They contain high levels of vitamin B, C and E as well as copious amounts of magnesium, copper, potassium and iodine, among other things.
Wild strawberries are perfectly safe to eat. In fact, we would even go one step further and say that they are super good for you.
While there are rumors that these berries are toxic, this isn’t the case and the fruit of this plant will do you no harm.
Many would agree that wild strawberries have a much more intense and wonderful flavor than commercially produced strawberries so if you’re looking for a tasty wild treat, this is something we would highly recommend.