Strawberry season is here. Before you go chopping up your freshly picked or purchased strawberries, or ripping the green off of the top aimlessly, you should know there’s an easy way to hull strawberries while preserving as much of the fruit as you possibly can. Here’s how to do it.
In case you aren’t familiar, removing the greens and the bigger cap from the top of a strawberry is called “hulling” it, and while most people just chop off the top of their berries, that wastes perfectly good fruit at the top that you could be eating. Posted over at Saveur, this handy video shows us how, with one quick motion, to use a knife to hull strawberries quickly while leaving the delicious fruit behind.
The best part of this trick is that you can fill the berries afterward, or just pop the whole remaining berry in your mouth and enjoy. Is this how you do it, or do you use the greens at the top as a handle when you eat strawberries? Let us know in the comments.
Video: How to Hull a Strawberry | Saveur
You can follow Alan Henry, the author of this post, on Twitter.
AdvertisementMany people have fond memories of eating strawberries as children on the knees of their grandparents or sneaking a few berries as they filled their baskets from the local pick-your-own strawberry farm. Back during the “good ol’ days” the primary way people enjoyed strawberries was by picking them from their own gardens, picking them from a local farm, or buying them from a local farmer who either picked or had his help pick them for market.
Each month I have people write and ask how to find the “old” varieties of strawberries that their grandparents grew. They testify that the new varieties just don’t seem to match their memories of the strawberries they so enjoyed during those bygone days. The explosive strawberry flavor they remember just can’t be matched by the modern strawberries they buy off the shelf; and, they can’t even get the same flavor by growing their own strawberries from the commercially available varieties available online or at local nurseries.
Well, I’m happy to be able to let everyone know that old-fashioned is back…
- Fairfax Strawberry Plants Are Back!
- Fairfax Strawberries: A Brief History
- Attributes of the Fairfax Strawberry
- Buy Fairfax Strawberry Plants Again
- to a Whole New World of Strawberry Flavor and Aroma
- Are strawberries considered fruits or vegetables?
- Everything you need to know about strawberries
- Strawberry Plant Types: Learn About Different Kinds Of Strawberry Fruit
- Three Main Strawberry Varieties
- Types of Strawberry Plants
- Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)
Fairfax Strawberry Plants Are Back!
I’ve had countless requests for information on and requests for buying Fairfax strawberry plants throughout the years. People in their 60s and 70s who remember the Fairfax strawberries they consumed in years past ask for them by name regularly. Many more ask about old varieties that they loved, but can’t remember their names. Fairfax is probably one of those varieties they are missing.
Mike Wellik, owner of The Strawberry Store in Middletown, Deleware, undertook the somewhat daunting task of re-introducing the beloved Fairfax strawberry variety to gardeners and enthusiasts. Mr. Wellik specializes in producing gourmet strawberry plants for hobbyists, green thumbs, and culinary masters who need only the finest aromas and flavors in their preparations. As such, he was well-equipped to tackle the project. But, before getting to the latest developments and recent history, a bit of background information is in order…
Fairfax Strawberries: A Brief History
Fairfax strawberries are a specific heirloom hybrid strawberry. They were selectively bred by the renowned strawberry breeder Dr. George M. Darrow in 1923, selected in 1925, and released in 1933. Shortly thereafter, they became quite popular due to the excellent flavor profile they possess and found their way into the maws of many hungry children and adults (thus forming those memories aforementioned!). Their success led them to be used in further breeding programs, and their genetic composition has contributed parentage to numerous later strawberry varieties, many of which are readily available today, the most notable of which are as follows: Ozark Beauty, Surecrop, and Ogallala. Although the parentage of Fairfax strawberry plants themselves is uncertain, Dr. Darrow believed Fairfax parentage was probably Etters 450 x Howard 17 (Pre-mier) or Howard Supreme x Etters 450.
There were a few problems with the Fairfax strawberry variety, however, at least as far as commercial strawberry farming goes. While Fairfax strawberry plants produce berries that are arguably the best-tasting of all the Fragaria x ananassa hybrids, great taste isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to profiting from the sale of large-scale production of strawberries. Durability of the Fairfax strawberry plants and their strawberries posed some problems.
Fairfax strawberry plants are not as fully disease resistant as some of the modern cultivars are. If you are a farmer planting acres upon acres of strawberries, reducing the risk of infection by pathogenic fungus or other opportunistic entity is a must. While this concern is much smaller for gardeners and enthusiasts, the Big Boys drive development of new strawberry breeds, and everyone else usually adopts the varieties they do over time. With today’s global market and coast-to-coast shipping within the United States, most people no longer pick produce and eat it the same day. Agricultural experts grow the produce, process it, pack it, ship it to the stores. Then, store personnel receive it, stock it, and finally sell it to you and me. We take it home, refrigerate it, and then finally use it. That is a whole lot of moving and shaking! Fairfax strawberries themselves have a softer and delicious texture, but this makes them more prone to bruising and damage during the picking/packing/shipping steps. Berries that don’t ship well don’t sell well at grocery stores. So, with the changing demands of commerce, Fairfax strawberry plants fell out of favor with growers in favor of more robust, but often less flavorful, cultivars.
As newer, more robust, higher volume varieties gained more and more traction, the “noble grandfather” Fairfax strawberry plants were phased out of commercial production and eventually died off or were replaced with the latest highly-touted varieties that emerged from breeding programs around the country. As stock dwindled, so did availability. Eventually, the Fairfax strawberries essentially disappeared. A supply of Fairfax strawberry plants couldn’t even be found through the internet. All that existed were hints, myths, and anecdotes of the legendary flavor contained within the scion of Fairfax…until now, that is.
Attributes of the Fairfax Strawberry
The most notable attribute of Fairfax strawberries is their unrivaled taste. It is eminently flavorful. Cool, cloudy weather and hot, windy weather can diminish its flavor slightly, however. The flowers of Fairfax strawberry plants produce a very large amount of pollen, which might partially explain its flavor. The variety is resistant to leaf spot and other leaf diseases, but is susceptible to red stele root disease and virus infections. The berries are very low acid which makes the less suitable for freezing, but their fresh eating and dessert quality is unsurpassed.
Fairfax strawberry plants produce a moderate amount of good-sized, deep red strawberries. Fairfax strawberries turn purplish when overripe.
Buy Fairfax Strawberry Plants Again
As mentioned above, Mr. Wellik has served the heirloom enthusiast community well by laboring to bring Fairfax strawberry plants back to the marketplace. It wasn’t easy, and the journey is into its 5th year as of this writing in the latter half of 2015. Mr. Wellik located a pure source of Fairfax strawberry plants at the USDA Agricultural Research Station in Corvallis, Oregon, where they maintain the National Clonal Germplasm Repository over 4 years ago. He then requested material from the USDA-ARS, and about a year later received two unrooted runner plants in late September. Due to the state of the plants, they had to be rooted and then kept indoors all winter. The following spring, they were found to be infected by a virus and had to be destroyed. Later that year, another individual was directed to the USDA-ARS by Mr. Wellik and likewise obtained Fairfax strawberry plants from them. They survived, reproduced, and Mr. Wellik obtained four rooted runners from this sample this past spring. From that initial handful of plants, he has applied his extensive knowledge of strawberry reproduction and care and now has hundreds of rooted Fairfax strawberry plants.
And, fortunately for everyone, they will be available for sale soon! To sign up for the waiting list, be sure to visit Mr. Wellik’s page and put your name on the list. The plants will be more expensive initially due to the very limited number and the length of time and expense involved with the development. But, Fairfax strawberries are at the top of the list for the best-tasting hybrid fruit in existence.
The flavor is exceptional, the stuff of legends. It is an ideal choice for home gardens and pick-your-own operations, but likely won’t be able to carve out a niche for itself in the large-scale, commercial market for the factors already discussed above. Fairfax strawberry plants produce a moderate number of strawberries and a moderate number of runners.
It isn’t often that the reality proves to excel the legend, but Mr. Wellik’s leap of faith has paid flavorful dividends already. He testifies, “This spring is the first time I tasted fruit from Fairfax. The claims of it being the best tasting strawberry ever bred is without a doubt true. Very mild, very low acid. Impossible to describe and impossible to forget once you’ve tasted.”
to a Whole New World of Strawberry Flavor and Aroma
For many centuries wild strawberries were the ONLY strawberries. Woodland strawberries growing in the woods were picked by children and families for fresh eating and for preserves. Alpine strawberries were first discovered in the first half of the 16th century and then rediscovered in the 18th century. Alpines never achieved the acclaim that they deserved because of the accidental cross in Europe of the virginia strawberry from America and the chilean strawberry from South America. The world went gaga over these new very large strawberries with a new flavor, the flavor of strawberries with a hint of pineapple, then known as pineapple strawberries or pineberries.
Gourmets still prize alpine strawberries but now home gardeners are learning of them and growing them. Hybrid strawberries have been bred to ship long distances. In the process, flavor took a back seat to shippability. Consumers are tired of these strawberries with poor flavor and since the modern trend is to grow your own food, alpine strawberries are seeing a popularity that they never saw before here in America.
For nearly 30 years I have been growing and collecting alpine strawberry cultivars. My name is Michael Wellik. The first time I tasted these strawberries it was the beginning of turning these strawberries into my life’s work. The exquisite flavor and aroma. The package was small, but the taste was and is gigantic.
It took me years to locate the famous ‘Reine des Vallees’ cultivar shown in the photo below. The longer I grow this cultivar the more impressed I am with its productivity, vigor, hardiness, flavor and aroma. It is my favorite red fruiting cultivar.
Years ago I found a cultivar named ‘Pineapple Crush’ from a seed company in New England. It has since disappeared from mail order catalogs but I still grow it and it is my favorite white fruiting cultivar. Take a look at a handful of fruit of this cultivar taken a couple of years ago.
In general, the yellow and white fruiting cultivars of alpine strawberries are sweeter in my opinion than the red fruit. White and yellow fruit has a texture that is slightly different from the reds. I find that ‘Pineapple Crush’ has a hint of pineapple flavor and very ripe fruit has at times a hint of vanilla flavor. All of these characteristics are terrific but the best feature in my mind is that white and yellow fruit are not attractive to birds. Birds can haul away a whole crop of red alpines. I’ve seen them testing the white and yellow fruit and will peck at them. They may even carry away a few once they’re convinced that they are ripe.
We invite you to try alpine strawberries. Take a trip back in time and experience flavor and aroma that will surprise and delight you.
You can now purchase seeds and plant from this site.
Are strawberries considered fruits or vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables are not exclusive categories, in a technical or even practical sense, though people seem insistent on treating them that way.
As several posters here have already explained, botanically a fruit develops from the ovary of a plant, and thus contains seeds.
Thus any edible plant part with a seed is a fruit: peppers, cucumbers, peas, beans, eggplants, tomatoes (which oddly gets singled out as if it was special), all grains, corn… all fruits.
In common use “fruit” is specifically used for fruits that are often sweet, especially tree fruits (but sour tree fruits are also considered “fruits”).
The strawberry is a bit of an odd case though. Technically only the seeds on the surface of the strawberry are fruits. The “berry” itself is not developed from the ovary, but is the swollen stem of the plant.
“Fruits and nuts” is another common phrase that places fruits in opposition to another plant food. In this case all nuts are fruits (not just some of them) but the distinction being made is really whether the fruit has a hard or tough shell, and the edible kernel that is just a seed without significant flesh, in which case it is called a “nut”.
Everything you need to know about strawberries
Strawberries provide a range of potential benefits and can support the body’s defences against a variety of diseases. There are more than 600 varieties of strawberry.
1. Preventing heart disease
Share on PinterestEating trawberries can help prevent heart disease.
Strawberries might have a preventive effect against heart disease due to their high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are plant compounds that are good for the body.
A 2019 report advises that the anthocyanin in strawberries has links to a lower risk of a type of heart attack known as myocardial infarction.
The flavonoid quercetin, which is also present in strawberries, is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
The fiber and potassium content in strawberries also support heart health.
In one 2011 study, participants who consumed 4,069 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day had a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease when compared to those who consumed about 1,000 mg of potassium per day.
2. Preventing stroke
A 2016 meta-analysis included studies that had assessed the antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, and anthocyanin.
This meta-analysis looked at the link between those antioxidants that were present in strawberries and stroke risk. It found that they moderately reduced the risk of stroke after the study authors took into account cardiovascular risk factors.
However, the authors advise caution over taking the study results too literally, as they looked at the overall impact of flavonoids rather than the participants’ direct response to doses.
Here, learn more about stroke.
The powerful antioxidants in strawberries may work against free radicals, according to a 2016 review. The review suggests that this factor could inhibit tumor growth and decrease inflammation in the body.
While no fruit acts as a direct treatment for cancer, strawberries, and similar fruits might help reduce the risk of some people developing the disease.
Find out about the different types of cancer here.
4. Blood pressure
Due to their high potassium content, strawberries might provide benefits for people who have a raised risk of high blood pressure by helping to offset the effects of sodium in the body.
Low potassium intake is just as important a risk factor for high blood pressure as high sodium intake.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2% of American adults meet the daily 4,700-mg recommendation for potassium.
Strawberries are a sweet, filling way to help people consume more potassium in their diet.
Eating foods such as strawberries, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe that are high in water content and fiber can help hydrate the body and maintain regular bowel movements.
Fiber is essential for minimizing constipation and adding bulk to the stool.
Strawberries are a healthful fruit choice for people with diabetes. The substantial fiber content of the berries also helps to regulate blood sugar and keep it stable by avoiding extreme highs and lows.
Fiber can improve satiety, helping people feel fuller for longer after eating. This can reduce urges to snack between meals, which will support glucose management and reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes.
Here, find out about the different types of diabetes.
Strawberry Plant Types: Learn About Different Kinds Of Strawberry Fruit
Strawberries are a perennial summertime favorite. Whether you love strawberry shortcake, berries over ice cream or simply fresh berries as an anytime treat, choosing the right strawberry plant types can help you satisfy your yen for these juicy, red fruits. Picking the right kinds of strawberry fruit for your zone and site situation will enhance your crop and keep you in berries for an extended period of time. Start with your zone and growing season information as you decide the best strawberry varieties for your home garden.
Three Main Strawberry Varieties
Picking the right strawberry cultivar requires a combined knowledge of hardiness, disease resistance, flavor, size and time of fruiting. There are June bearing, everbearing and day-neutral strawberries, each with a different time and duration of fruiting. You can also go all out and plant each of the three different types of strawberries in the garden. Just be prepared for the berry onslaught as the summer rolls around.
Time of bearing is a major divider in the classes of strawberries.
- June bearing plants have one monster crop of berries per year. June is the general time for bearing but that may be earlier or later depending upon your zone.
- Everbearing plants have more modest-sized crops, but they can start producing as soon as there are 12 hours of daylight and continue bearing until the end of summer.
- Day-neutral strawberry plant types have three peak periods of fruiting. Usually, these fall as early June, mid-July and late August, which provides a nicely spread outcrop.
In addition to the time of fruiting, hardiness and the type of fruit are other considerations when planning the kinds of strawberry fruit you install.
Generally, the types of strawberry plants available at your local nursery are suitable for your zone. Cavendish is a very winter hardy variety as are Fort Laramie, Hecker, Kent, and Mesabi. A favorite of home gardeners in most zones is Surecrop, which reliably produces firm fruits in almost any region and soil type.
Other things to think about might be the resistance to diseases such as Verticillium wilt, anthracnose, and red stele. Additionally, some kinds of strawberry fruit do not send out runners. If you are trying to contain the plants in a strawberry pot or some other situation, this is perfect, but if you want a big sprawling berry patch, non-runner types can be limiting.
Finally, pick the plants that produce the fruit you prefer. Canners require firmer berries, like those from Shuksan, while sweet, perfect hand-to-mouth varieties might be Redchief or Earliglow.
Types of Strawberry Plants
There are few things like having your own strawberries in the garden. Simply stepping out your door and getting ripe, red fruits to cut onto your cereal every morning is a simple pleasure that should not be missed. A few of the best performers are listed here:
- Albion – Very resistant to disease, large, firm fruit, numerous runners (Day Neutral)
- Tillamook – Resistant to some disease, fruit is excellent for preserves or eating out of hand (Early)
- Northeaster – Large fruits and high yield (Early)
- Elsanta – Not resistant to some diseases but large, firm, sweet fruit (Day Neutral)
- Jewel – Big firm fruit, some resistance to leaf disease, moderate runners (Everbearing)
- Earliglow – Resistant to leaf and root diseases, very flavorful berries (Early)
- Quinalt – Resistant to many diseases, large, soft fruit (Everbearing)
These are but a few varieties from which to choose, but your local extension or nursery can arm you with the optimum choices for your region. In addition, you may prefer to plant native strawberries. These make excellent ground covers and are hardy and resistant to most diseases.
Native strawberry types include:
- Alpine strawberry
- European strawberry
- Fraises de Boise
- Woodland strawberry
- Wild strawberry
List of Pests
Top of page
Major host of:
Adelphocoris lineolatus (lucerne bug); Amaranthus retroflexus (redroot pigweed); Anthonomus bisignifer (strawberry weevil); Anthonomus signatus (strawberry bud weevil); Aphelenchoides besseyi (rice leaf nematode); Aphelenchoides fragariae (strawberry crimp nematode); Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi (Chrysanthemum foliar eelworm); Aulacorthum solani (foxglove aphid); Beet pseudoyellows virus; Botryotinia fuckeliana (grey mould-rot); Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris (yellow disease phytoplasmas); Candidatus Phytoplasma australiense; Cercospora fragariae; Chaetosiphon fragaefolii (strawberry aphid); Chamomilla recutita (common chamomile); Chenopodium album (fat hen); Colletotrichum acutatum (black spot of strawberry); Colletotrichum fragariae (anthracnose of strawberry); Cornu aspersum (common garden snail); Cyperus esculentus (yellow nutsedge); Diplocarpon earlianum (strawberry leaf scorch); Ditylenchus destructor (potato tuber nematode); Ditylenchus dipsaci (stem and bulb nematode); Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing drosophila); Elasmopalpus lignosellus (lesser corn stalk borer); Epichoristodes acerbella (South African carnation tortrix); Forficula auricularia (European earwig); Frankliniella occidentalis (western flower thrips); Frankliniella tritici (eastern flower thrips); Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa (European mole cricket); Helicotylenchus dihystera (common spiral nematode); Homona coffearia (tea tortrix); Longidorus (longidorids); Longidorus elongatus (needle nematode); Lygus lineolaris (tarnished plant bug); Lygus rugulipennis (bishop bug); Macrophomina phaseolina (charcoal rot of bean/tobacco); Meloidogyne hapla (root knot nematode); Melolontha melolontha (white grub cockchafer); Otiorhynchus ovatus (strawberry root weevil); Otiorhynchus rugosostriatus (rough strawberry root weevil); Pantomorus cervinus (Fuller’s rose beetle); Phytophthora fragariae (strawberry red stele root rot); Podosphaera aphanis (powdery mildew of strawberry); Pratylenchus penetrans (nematode, northern root lesion); Pratylenchus vulnus (walnut root lesion nematode); Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish); Raspberry ringspot virus (ringspot of raspberry); Rhodococcus fascians (fasciation: leafy gall); Scirtothrips dorsalis (chilli thrips); Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (cottony soft rot); Senecio vulgaris; Sitobion fragariae (blackberry cereal aphid); Solanum carolinense (horsenettle); Solenopsis geminata (tropical fire ant); Spodoptera litura (taro caterpillar); Strawberry crinkle virus (crinkle disease of strawberry); Strawberry latent ringspot virus (latent ring spot of strawberry); Strawberry lethal decline phytoplasma; Strawberry mild yellow edge virus (strawberry virus 2); Strawberry mottle virus (strawberry mottle disease); Strawberry necrotic shock virus (Strawberry necrotic shock virus); Strawberry pallidosis associated virus; Strawberry witches’ broom phytoplasma (witches’ broom of strawberry); Tetranychus cinnabarinus (carmine spider mite); Tetranychus kanzawai (kanzawa spider mite); Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite); Tomato black ring virus (ring spot of beet); Trichodorus (stubby root nematodes); Verticillium dahliae (verticillium wilt); Xanthomonas fragariae (angular leaf spot); Xiphinema americanum (dagger nematode); Xiphinema diversicaudatum (dagger nematode); Xiphinema rivesi (dagger nematode)
Minor host of:
Alternaria alternata (alternaria leaf spot); Alternaria tenuissima (nailhead spot of tomato); Anagallis arvensis (scarlet pimpernel); Aphis forbesi (strawberry aphid); Astylus atromaculatus (astylus beetle); Bactrocera tryoni (Queensland fruit fly); Botrytis caroliniana; Brachycaudus helichrysi (leaf-curling plum aphid); Cacoecimorpha pronubana (carnation tortrix); Caliothrips fasciatus; Candidatus Phytoplasma solani (Stolbur phytoplasma); Chaetomium globosum (antagonist of Venturia); Chinavia hilaris (green stink bug); Cirsium arvense (creeping thistle); Cirsium vulgare (spear thistle); Cladosporium macrocarpum; Cochliobolus lunatus (head mould of grasses, rice and sorghum); Colletotrichum boninense; Colletotrichum siamense; Conotrachelus nenuphar (plum curculio); Cucumber mosaic virus (cucumber mosaic); Dociostaurus maroccanus (Moroccan locust); Elymus repens (quackgrass); Erwinia pyrifoliae; Euphoria lurida; Frankliniella schultzei (cotton thrips); Frankliniella williamsi (corn thrips); Fusarium oxysporum (basal rot); Fusarium proliferatum; Geotrichum candidum; Gnomonia comari (stem-end rot); Golovinomyces orontii (powdery mildew); Grapevine yellows phytoplasmas; Haematonectria haematococca (dry rot of potato); Helicotylenchus pseudorobustus (spiral nematode); Helicoverpa zea (American cotton bollworm); Hop stunt viroid (hop stunt viroid); Hypera postica (lucerne weevil); Lasiodiplodia theobromae (diplodia pod rot of cocoa); Lepidium draba (hoary cress); Meloidogyne ethiopica (Root-knot nematode); Meloidogyne fallax (false Columbia root-knot nematode); Meloidogyne javanica (sugarcane eelworm); Monilinia fructigena (brown rot); Noctua pronuba (common yellow underwing moth); Otiorhynchus sulcatus (vine weevil); Pangaeus bilineatus (burrowing bug); Penicillium expansum (blue mould of stored apple); Peridroma saucia (pearly underwing moth); Petrobia latens (brown wheat mite); Philaenus spumarius (meadow froghopper); Phlyctinus callosus (vine calandra); Phytophthora cactorum (apple collar rot); Phytophthora capsici (stem and fruit rot of Capsicum); Phytophthora citrophthora (brown rot of citrus fruit); Phytophthora fragariaefolia; Phytophthora nicotianae (black shank); Phytoplasma fragariae; Pilidium concavum; Pratylenchus loosi (root lesion nematode); Pratylenchus thornei; Pythium aphanidermatum (damping-off); Pythium myriotylum (brown rot of groundnut); Rhizopus stolonifer (bulb rot); Saturnia pavonia (small emperor moth); Scutellonema brachyurus; Scutellonema clathricaudatum; Senna obtusifolia (sicklepod); Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant); Spergula arvensis (corn spurry); Spodoptera exigua (beet armyworm); Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); Stelidota geminata; Stellaria media (common chickweed); Strawberry vein banding virus (vein banding of strawberry); Taraxacum officinale complex (dandelion); Thrips imaginis (plague thrips); Thrips tabaci (onion thrips); Tipula paludosa (European crane fly); Tobacco necrosis virus (augusta disease of tulip); Tobacco streak virus (tobacco streak); Urtica urens (annual nettle)
Wild host of:
Exomala orientalis (oriental beetle)
Associated with (not a host):
Longidorus attenuatus (needle nematode); Longidorus euonymus; Serratia plymuthica
Host of (source – data mining):
Barypeithes pellucidus (juniper root weevil); Epiphyas postvittana (light brown apple moth); Gibberella acuminata (stalk rot of maize); Gibberella intricans (damping-off of safflower); Oribius destructor (grey weevil); Oribius inimicus (grey weevil)
20+ species; see text
Strawberry is any of the various, low-growing perennial plants of the genus Fragaria in the rose family (Rosaceae), as well as the name for the edible, aggregate fruit of this plant, which is generally red when ripe, but can also be green, white, or yellowish in different species or varieties. There are more than 20 named species and many hybrids and cultivars. The most common strawberries grown commercially are cultivars of the garden strawberry, Fragaria × ananassa.
The strawberry flower and fruit of the strawberry are not only important for reproduction, but also provide larger values for the ecosystem and for human beings. Ecologically, the flower is a nectar source for bees, and the fruit is consumed by numerous animals. For humans, the fruit is popular not only for its pleasing taste, color, and texture, but also offers nutritional value.
So desirable is the fruit that sixteenth-century author William Butler proclaimed “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did” (Herbst 2001). Today, human creativity is exhibited in the many varieties developed for commercial and personal gardening purposes.
- 1 Description
- 2 History
- 3 Types
- 4 Uses
- 5 Gallery
- 6 References
- 7 Credits
Fragaria is a genus of plant in the family Rosaceae. Rosaceae is one of the largest families of flowering plants with about 3,400 species, including apples, berries, peaches, plums, cherries, the hawthorn tree, the mountain ash, and many others.
Fragaria are low herbaceous perennial plants that have compound leaves with three hairy, sawtooth edged leaflets. The flowers are white and grow in clusters on thin stalks. In addition to the seeds produced by these flowering plants, strawberries spread by stolons as they get older.
The fleshy, edible strawberry “fruit” is technically not a single fruit nor a berry. It is an accessory fruit; that is, the fleshy part is derived not from the ovaries, which yield the “seeds” (actually achenes), but from the peg at the bottom of the hypanthium that held the ovaries. (The hypanthium is the bowl-shaped part of a flower consisting of the bottoms of the sepals, petals, and stamens stuck together). So from a technical standpoint, the seeds are the actual fruits of the plant, and the flesh of the strawberry is modified receptacle tissue, which contains numerous partially embedded fruits (seeds). It is whitish-green as it develops and in most species turns red when ripe.
Strawberries have been appreciated for centuries, with the Romans valuing the fruit for its reputed therapeutic powers; however, it was first cultivated in the thirteenth century (Herbst 2001).
The garden strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa and related cultivars) is the most common variety of strawberry cultivated worldwide. It originated in Europe in the early eighteenth century, and represents the cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America (the main native strawberry in the United States), which was noted for its fine flavor, and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile, noted for its large size. Cultivars of Fragaria x ananassa have replaced in commercial production the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), which was cultivated in the early seventeenth century.
Madam Tallien, a great figure of the French Revolution, who was nicknamed Our Lady of Thermidor, used to take baths full of strawberries to keep the full radiance of her skin. Fontenelle, centenarian writer and gourmet of the eighteenth century, considered his long life was due to the strawberries he used to eat.
Fragaria comes from “fragans,” meaning odorous, referring to the perfumed flesh of the fruit. The name strawberry is derived from Old English strēawberiġe, which is a compound of streaw, meaning “straw,” and berige, meaning “berry.” The reason for this is unclear. It may derive from the strawlike appearance of the runners, or from an obsolete denotation of straw, meaning “chaff,” referring to the scattered appearance of the achenes.
There is an alternative theory that the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon verb for “strew” (meaning to spread around), yielding streabergen. (Strea means “strew” and bergen means “berry” or “fruit.”) Thus, the word could have evolved to streberie, straiberie, strauberie, straubery, strauberry, and finally, “strawberry,” the word which we use today. The name might have come from the fact that the fruit and various runners appear “strewn” along the ground.
Popular etymology has it that it comes from gardeners’ practice of mulching strawberries with straw to protect the fruits from rot (a pseudoetymology that can be found in non-linguistic sources such as the Old Farmer’s Almanac 2005).
There are more than 20 different Fragaria species worldwide. Key to the classification of strawberry species is recognizing that they vary in the number of chromosomes. There are seven basic types of chromosomes that they all have in common. However, they exhibit different polyploidy. Some species are diploid, having two sets of the seven chromosomes (14 chromosomes total). Others are tetraploid (four sets, 28 chromosomes total), hexaploid (six sets, 42 chromosomes total), octoploid (eight sets, 56 chromosomes total), or decaploid (ten sets, 70 chromosomes total).
As a rough rule (with exceptions), strawberry species with more chromosomes tend to be more robust and produce larger plants with larger berries (Darrow 1966).
- Fragaria daltoniana
- Fragaria iinumae
- Fragaria nilgerrensis
- Fragaria nipponica
- Fragaria nubicola
- Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry)
- Fragaria viridis
- Fragaria yezoensis
- Fragaria moupinensis
- Fragaria orientalis
- Fragaria moschata (Musk Strawberry)
Octoploid species and hybrids
- Fragaria x ananassa (Garden Strawberry)
- Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry)
- Fragaria iturupensis (Iturup Strawberry)
- Fragaria virginiana (Virginia Strawberry)
Decaploid species and hybrids
- Fragaria × Potentilla hybrids
- Fragaria × vescana
Numerous other species have been proposed. Some are now recognized as subspecies of one of the above species (see GRIN taxonomy database).
The garden strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) is the most common American variety and is probably the most hardy berry, able to withstand well shipping and storage (Herbst 2001).
The European alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca, commonly known as woodland strawberry, but also wild strawberry, alpine strawberry, and European strawberry) is considered to be more flavorful (Herbst 2001). These tiny, sweet, wild strawberries, known as fraises des bois (“strawberries of the wood”) (Herbst 2001) are grown on a small scale commercially for the use of gourmets. This strawberry was widely cultivated in Europe before being largely replaced by the garden strawberry and varieties, which have much larger berries. Unlike most commercial and garden cultivars of strawberries, woodland strawberries rarely form runners, and are usually propagated by seeds or division of the plants. Some cultivars of F. vesca have berries that are green, white, or yellow when fully ripe, in addition to the normal red.
The mock strawberry and barren strawberry, which both bear resemblance to Fragaria, are closely related species in the genus Potentilla. The Strawberry tree is an unrelated species.
Strawberry output in 2005.
FAO reports that USA was the top producer of strawberries worldwide in 2005, followed by Spain.
Strawberries may be eaten fresh, made into jams and jellies, used in desserts, and used to flavor other foods, such as ice cream. Apart from its interest as a dessert fruit, the strawberry draws interest due to the peculiarities of its structure, its tendency towards variation, and the gardener’s success in exploiting this tendency.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, and provide sources of fiber, carbohydrates, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
F. vesca is sometimes used as an herbal medicine; an herbal tea made from the leaves, stems, and flowers is believed to aid in the treatment of diarrhea.
Closeup of the surface of a strawberry
A wild strawberry plant, showing characteristic shape
Strawberry farms generally add hives of honeybees to improve pollination
A very large strawberry.
Assorted chocolate-covered strawberries
Strawberry farm in DaHu, Taiwan
Green strawberry late May 2007 Seattle, Washington
- Darrow, G. M. 1966. The Strawberry: History, Breeding and Physiology. New York. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
- Herbst, S. T. 2001. The New Food Lover’s Companion: Comprehensive Definitions of Nearly 6,000 Food, Drink, and Culinary Terms. Barron’s Cooking Guide. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series. ISBN 0764112589.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Genetic Resources Program. 2007. GRIN Taxonomy for Plants: Fragaria Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Retrieved December 18, 2007.
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