Wild Strawberry

Fragaria vesca

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit, leaves.

Edible Uses: Coffee, tea.

Fruit - raw, cooked or made into preserves. Sweet and succulent. An exquisite flavour but the fruits are usually very small and fiddly, though they can be up to 10mm in diameter. Rich in iron and potassium, the fruit is an excellent addition to the diet of people suffering from anaemia. Young leaves - raw or cooked. Added to salads or used as a potherb. The fresh or dried leaves are used as a tea substitute. A delicious drink, it is ideal for children. The root has been used as a coffee substitute in India.

Medicinal Uses

The leaves and the fruit are mildly astringent, diuretic, laxative and tonic. The leaves are mainly used, though the fruits are an excellent food to take when feverish and are also effective in treating rheumatic gout. A slice of strawberry is also excellent when applied externally to sunburnt skin. A tea made from the leaves is a blood tonic and has been used as a treatment for diarrhoea in adults and children. It is used in the treatment of chilblains and also as an external wash on sunburn. A poultice can be made from the powdered leaves mixed in oil, it is used to treat open sores. The leaves are harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The fruits contain salicylic acid and are beneficial in the treatment of liver and kidney complaints, as well as in the treatment of rheumatism and gout. The roots are astringent and diuretic. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and chronic dysentery. Externally it is used to treat chilblains and as a throat gargle. The roots are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Other Uses

Cosmetic, teeth.

The fruit is used as a tooth cleaner. The fresh fruit removes stains from teeth if it is allowed to remain for about 5 minutes. The fruit is also used cosmetically in skin-care creams. It tones and whitens the skin, combats wrinkles, lightens freckles, soothes sunburn and whitens the teeth.

Cultivation details

Prefers a fertile, well-drained, moisture retentive soil in a sunny position. Tolerates semi-shade though fruit production will be reduced. Succeeds on acid and alkaline soils. Likes a mulch of pine or spruce leaves. Does well on woodland edges. Plants spread rapidly by means of runners.

Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. The seed can take 4 weeks or more to germinate. The seedlings are very small and slow-growing at first, but then grow rapidly. Prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out during the summer. Division of runners, preferably done in July/August in order to allow the plants to become established for the following years crop. They can also be moved in the following spring if required, though should not then be allowed to fruit in their first year. The runners can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.