Wild Strawberries vs. Mock Strawberries: What's the Difference?
Many people are confused about the difference between a wild strawberry and a mock strawberry. Both of these strawberries grow in the wild, and they look quite similar, but when it comes to taste and other features, these two berries have less in common than you would think.
In the article below, I will examine the differences between wild strawberries and mock strawberries.
Wild Strawberries vs. Mock Strawberries
Dry and crunchy
White with five pedals
Yellow with five pedals
The wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is rather small. The plant normally grows to about two and a half to three inches tall, but can grow taller. The wild strawberry is highly sought after. They are much smaller than their commercial cousin, the garden strawberry, but are much sweeter! The berry ripens around late spring to early summer in meadows, fields, lower mountain regions, wooded areas, and stream banks, and can be found in undisturbed areas as well as urban and suburban areas.
The flowers of the wild strawberry plant are white with five petals. The leaves grow to about a half inch to one inch across and about two to three inches long, and grow in groups of three like poison ivy, but are not poisonous.
The wild strawberry is a perennial herbaceous plant, and can be found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Like ivy, strawberry plants produce runners, which are stems that grow along the ground and find rooting. Once they take root, a new strawberry plant begins to grow, and the runners continue to spread.
- European strawberry
- Virginia strawberry
- Alpine strawberry
Besides being used as a sweet snack, the roots of the plant are also used to make tea. The tea is used to treat diarrhea, ailments of the lungs and stomach, and dry skin. Like the dandelion, every part of the wild strawberry plant is edible and usable.
How to Find Wild Strawberries (Video)
The mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica) grows to the same size as the wild strawberry, but with two very obvious differences:
- The flower has five petals like the wild strawberry, but is yellow instead of white.
- The berries are more round with hard little seeds that protrude from the berry's flesh.
The mock strawberry has a bad rap, probably because of its name. Upon eating a mock strawberry, the first thing you will notice is the lack of juice. They're rather dry. The taste of a mock strawberry isn't exactly pleasant, either, being slightly bitter with an aftertaste much like cucumber or watermelon.
The mock strawberry plant is originally from southeastern Asia. Hence its taxonomic name "indica," which means "from India." They can also be found in Japan, China, and Indonesia. They were introduced to the United States as an ornamental flower, but because of their rapid growth and expansion, they quickly became a formidable weed.
The mock strawberry grows in similar conditions to the wild strawberry. They are usually found in wooded areas with clover, and in open fields. The tip of the leaf is more blunt than that of the wild strawberry.
- Woodland strawberry
- She mei (snake berry in Chinese)
- Indian strawberry
- False strawberry
For the most part, mock strawberries can be eaten without consequence. That being said, some have reported having allergic reactions. After conducting a study on the consumption of mock strawberries, the FDA wrote:
Forty-one strawberry exposures were reported. Twenty-seven cases (65.8%) involved mock strawberries. Ages ranged from 12 months to 27 years; 74% were less than 5 years of age. In 19 cases, 3 berries or fewer were ingested, with an undetermined number ingested in 8 cases. Twenty-six patients were asymptomatic initially. One child displayed hives which resolved following antihistamine therapy. Delayed symptoms were not reported as 25 patients remained asymptomatic, with two lost to follow-up. Mock— Jenkins, R.A.; Matyunas, N.J.; Rodgers, G.C.