Wild Strawberry – Fragaria Virginiana: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Early Berry of Wild Plants

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In Chippewa, ode’iminidji’bik meaning “heart berry root”, wild strawberry is one of the first berries to ripen, around the start of summer in cottage country, Ontario. It’s the “queen berry” of our edible and medicinal wild plants.

I titled this entry with the main wild strawberry species you’ll find in abundance here, but we also have wood strawberry (vesca var. Americana), though uncommon, and the rare barren strawberry (waldsteinia fragarioides). It’s the same scenario in Algonquin park.

Wild Strawberry – Fragaria Virginiana
Wild Strawberry – Fragaria Virginiana

Edible Uses of Wild Strawberry

In the wild, the further north you get the sourer the berries and fruits in general are. Our wild strawberries are perhaps the least sour of the bunch. While much smaller than the cultivators you may plant here as annuals, pick at a farm, or buy at the store, the flavor of wild strawberries is preferred by many.

Locate strawberry patches early and start checking as early as June rolls in for the best chance at finding ripe berries. In average years here I find the most red wild strawberries mid-July. Check open woodlands, fields of forb, and margins of woodlands and paths.

Berries and leaves can be steeped in hot water for a tea served hot or cold. But the leaves are best late summer. Like raspberries, partially wilted strawberry leaves are toxic. Always used fresh or completely dried leaves.

The berries dry well for a chewy snack and can be made into a fruit leather. You can preserve them in any way imaginable. The trick is going to be finding enough and at once.

High in vitamins A and C.

Medicinal Uses of Wild Strawberry

Wild strawberry is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Integumentary
  • Reproductive

Medicinal tags include Astringent and Diuretic. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes the mildly astringent dried leaves for diarrhea and stomach cramps. But this small berry plant may go well beyond typical astringent uses like runs and gargles.

The boron in strawberries may help concerning menopause and certain menstrual issues, as boron might increase estrogen levels. Many foods we eat on a day to day basis are high in phytoestrogens. The current popular opinion seems to be that phytoestrogens may help to a limited extent but are not a replacement for HRT (hormone replacement therapy). But I’ll have to delve into this further in the future, so don’t take my limited word on it!

Alternative Uses of the Queen of the Berries

Strawberries are a commonly suggested natural remedy for removing tartar and whitening teeth. But usually a pinch of baking soda is added. Large amounts of fruit in ones diet can slow dental plaque formation.

Growing Fragaria Virginiana

Strawberries are part of the rose family like plum and cherry. But unlike their tree and thicket cousins, you can use wild strawberry as a ground cover. They prefer a moist, well-drained soil on the acidic side, which is common around Haliburton. Virginia and wild strawberry are native here.

If you’re going for abundance and sweetness, cultivators are easier, but if you want a ground cover that’ll spread around or are looking for that strawberriest of strawberry flavor, wild is wonderful. And with tending, watering, and perhaps some chicken wire you may have better luck getting ripe “wild” berries!

WARNINGS

Some people are allergic to strawberries.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

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REFERENCES

wiki/Fragaria_virginiana

Reader’s Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants

Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants (Out of Print)

Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants

Indian Herbalogy of North America: The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts (Native American)

Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World’s Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

Mi’kmaq Medicines (2nd edition): Remedies and Recollections

The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published (Dover Cookbooks)

Stalking The Wild Asparagus (Field Guide Edition).

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