Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Plant of the Week: Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

The wild strawberry is one of those native plants that provide fruit that is edible by humans and a variety of other creatures.  The fruits, smaller than horticultural varieties but much sweeter and better tasting, is now ripening in the fields across the Commonwealth.  This is a low growing loose colony forming perennial that has trifoliate leaves with each leaflet about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.  The five-petaled 3/4" wide flowers bloom in early spring with fruit usually arriving about this time of year.  This plant likes full sun to partial sun and loamy soils if possible.  It produces long, hairy runners about 2" long which will produce more plantlets.  The most important pollinators for this species are small bees although some flies and skippers will also visit the flowers.  A wide variety of birds and mammals will readily eat the fruit.  There is a very nice Native American folk legend about strawberries that does something like this.  Soon after the Great Spirit created the first man and woman they got into an argument.  Because of this, the woman ran away and left the man, who became lonely and sad and began to weep and moan.  The Great Spirit heard the cries from the man and asked him if he wanted the woman to return.  The man said yes and if she returned he would never fight with her again. So the Great Spirit told the man to go find the woman.  Well the woman had a tremendous head start and so to slow her down so the man could catch up to her, he placed a large patch of blueberries in her way hoping she would stop to eat.  However, she was so mad she ignored them. The Great Spirit then tried raspberries, currants, and blackberries, all to no avail.  The woman was so angry she ignored the thorns and her clothing that had been ripped to shreds.  Finally the Great Spirit decided to create a new fruit growing near the ground.  The woman had never seen this fruit and was intrigued and she ate some berries.  It was so good, she actually stopped to pick some to eat them and the man caught up to her.  He apologized and they made up and the strawberry was shaped like a heart because it symbolized the love between the man and the woman and the Native Americans called the fruit, heart berry. This species and one from Chile are the ancestors of our domesticated strawberries that we purchase at the market.

1 comment:

  1. We have found these growing in different places around our house; several years ago I transplanted some of them to my herb garden where they have multiplied like crazy. They are delicious - better than any domesticated strawberry I've ever had. I especially like the Native American folklore and believe every word of it!