I saw my first woodland strawberry about 10 years back going  walkabout in Dalhousie  (Himachal Pradesh, India). I was more interested in animals than plants at that juncture. My friend pointed  out the plant on the trail and we picked and ate a few. A month back, I saw it in Dhanaulti on a trip along with a few friends. I picked and ate a few, but my friends were too scared to try it out just in case it was poisonous. Later on, I found more of them along the many trails in around Landour in Mussoorie near the Landour Community Hospital and also on the trails around Woodstock school.

DSC_8455-300x247However unlike what was mentioned in Wikipedia, these did not have a strong taste, but were rather bland, watery and of course full of crunchy seeds. I found them to be very delicate and easily crushed so had to handle them  carefully even when plucking them from the plant.

Botanical name : Fragaria vesca

Common name  : Woodland strawberry, wild strawberry, European strawberry, Fraises des Bois, Alpine strawberry

Local Names      :

Description      : Typical habitat is along trails and roadsides, embankments, hillsides, stone and gravel laid paths and roads, meadows, young woodlands, sparse forest, woodland edges and clearings. Often plants can be found where they do not get sufficient light to form fruit. Creeps along the ground rooting at intervals of approximately 7 -10 centimeters with trifoliate leaves. The plant is shy so you need to look carefully for it. When there is fruit on the plant, it is easier to spot, thanks to the red fruit. The fruit however can be hidden below the leaves, when there is a lot of foliage. Often you can find strawberries which were leftover from someone else s foraging because they failed to spot some of the them.

DSC_8818-300x221Leaf                : Trifoliate leaves on the creeper on a stem typically at the place where the creeper roots.

Flower              : I haven’t been around in the flowering season, but other peoples photographs indicate a small white flower resembling a wild daisy. The petals are much wider and fewer than a daisy though.

Fruit                     : Red and spherical with little bumps similar to the commercial strawberry

Uses                : Edible! Probably can be used to prepare jams etc just like the commercial strawberries we an buy in the market, but would be more nutritious eating them as they are -fresh from the plant.

The US Marine corps survival guide states that the fruit is high in vitamin C and that the leaves are edible and can be eaten fresh or dried and used in tea.

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