Wild Strawberries vs. Mock Strawberries: What's the Difference?

Updated on May 24, 2018
Wild strawberries.
Wild strawberries. | Source

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

 
Wild Strawberry
Mock Strawberry
Taxonomy
Fragaria virginiana
Duchesnea indica
Size
Small
Small
Taste
Sweet
Bitter
Texture
Juicy
Dry and crunchy
Flower
White with five pedals
Yellow with five pedals
Edible
Yes
No

Wild Strawberries

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.

Flower of the wild strawberry plant.
Flower of the wild strawberry plant.

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.

Other Names

  • European strawberry
  • Virginia strawberry
  • Alpine strawberry

Uses

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)

Mock Strawberries

The mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica) grows to the same size as the wild strawberry, but with two very obvious differences:

  1. The flower has five petals like the wild strawberry, but is yellow instead of white.
  2. 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.

Mock strawberries.
Mock strawberries. | Source

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.

Other Names

  • Woodland strawberry
  • She mei (snake berry in Chinese)
  • Indian strawberry
  • False strawberry

Flower of the mock strawberry plant.
Flower of the mock strawberry plant.

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.

Mock Strawberries in the Wild (Video)

Questions & Answers

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      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 6 weeks ago from Tennessee

        Edward, you are correct!

      • profile image

        Harry 6 weeks ago

        Maybe I am confused but I have two different type of supposedly wild strawberries growing around my home one of them has 5 leaves I'm assuming that's the wild one and the other has only three leaves, could you clear that up for me, thank you in advance

      • profile image

        Edward 2 months ago

        Duchesnea indica is edible

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 5 months ago from Tennessee

        Hi! Thanks for commenting!

        First of all, I'm not sure the mock strawberry is available commercially. They do grow wild, as the wild blueberry, so is it possible to mass produce them? Maybe.

        However, they are MUCH smaller than the "normal" strawberries people are accustomed to.

        Keep in mind, they have a bitterness to them with only a bit of a sweetness that comes and goes rather quickly. Honestly, although edible, I don't think it's a good go to for your product(s). I don't think people would want to just go out and pluck them up like a regular strawberry. In fact, they may avoid them. One has to have an acquired taste for them. Also, they have a different texture from other strawberries. They feel bumpy (or maybe even prickly) on the tongue.

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 5 months ago from Tennessee

        Sure! :)

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 23 months ago from Tennessee

        You're most welcome!

      • profile image

        Quips and Quotes 2 years ago

        I have found these creeping into my yard. I haven't come across a berry yet to know which kind they are. I am trying to nurture them because for some reason I do not have a green thumb. Thank you for the information.

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 2 years ago from Tennessee

        That I honestly don't know. I've never had a big enough problem with them to need to try and get rid of them. Unfortunately, you may need to talk to some one who is licensed to spray yards. They may charge a hefty fee, but they may be able to chemically treat your yard correctly and maybe take care of a few other troubles along the way. If you find out anything I'd welcome you to comment back for anyone else with the same question. OR...I'll include your information in the article if you'd like and mention you as the source.

      • profile image

        Marylouise Plant 2 years ago

        Mock strawberries are taking over our yard. HOW do we get rid of them??

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 3 years ago from Tennessee

        Hey, Karen! Thank you so much for the awesome compliment! I'm happy I could be helpful to you! :)

      • profile image

        Karen 3 years ago

        Hello- my garden has both types but I did not realize until I decided to transplant them in other parts and was surprised to see yellow flowers instead of white. Yours is the most useful article I was able to find to clear up my mystery. Thank you!

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 4 years ago from Tennessee

        Your welcome! Hopefully you won't come across them, but they do like to show up unannounced. lol

      • Imogen French profile image

        Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

        I have wild strawberries growing in a few wild corners of my garden, and they are the sweetest fruit you can imagine - although very tiny! I haven't heard of the mock strawberry - maybe we don't get that one here in the UK. Interesting hub, thanks.

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 4 years ago from Tennessee

        Hi, Connieow! Thanks for the vote! When I was little, we would hunt blackberries, too, and I'd eat up my grandfather's mulberries and go in the house after walking bare foot all over berries and tracking stains in the house. lol Hope you have good luck with your berry hunts! It's always nice to roam the outdoors. :)

      • connieow profile image

        Connie S Owens 4 years ago from El Cajon, CA

        As a child I remember berry hunting, but never for strawberries. We went for the blackberry, blueberry, and a few others. Strawberries are one of my favorites. Now I have to go look for wild strawberries. Thank you. Voted up and useful.

      • Gypsy Scribe profile image
        Author

        Anthony Davis 4 years ago from Tennessee

        Yeah, I've read about them being used for jam, too. I guess with all the other GOOD berries in the jam the taste of these wouldn't affect it much. Or at least...I'd hope not. lol

      • clairewait profile image

        clairewait 4 years ago from North Carolina

        These are growing all over my yard and I assumed at first they were raspberries (which I have and which often spread as birds eat them). I've read where several people use the leaves to make tea and use the berries to "bulk up" strawberry jam. I agree that the poisonous rap seems to be more of a wives tale.

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