This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The soft nature of the fruits of this wild plant, in spite of the harder seeds, has prevented them from being preserved as fossils. The present distribution is limited to Arctic Europe, N. and W. Asia, the Himalayas, and North America. The Wild Strawberry is general in Great Britain, but does not occur in S. Lincs, Mid Lancs, Stirling, E. Sutherland, Hebrides, though elsewhere as far north as Shetland, and it ascends to nearly 2000 ft. in the Highlands. It is common also to Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The Wild Strawberry is a shade-loving plant, which is to be found in shady lanes where broad banks are overhung by trees or herbage, where moisture is uniform but not too abundant. It is seen at its best, however, and in greatest profusion, in those natural (or may be artificial) glades in woods where, in additional to continual moisture, light and sunshine are regularly diffused.
The wild plant is a much smaller form of the garden type, but closely resembling it in habit. It is freely stoloniferous, and the radical leaves are trifoliate, with serrate margins, sessile. The stolons are a foot or more long.
Photo. Rev. C. A. Hall - Wild Strawberry (fragaria Vesca, L.)
The flowering stems or scapes are clothed with down which is made up of spreading hairs, and are borne in axils of the radical leaves. The hairs on the pedicels are closely appressed. The calyx is reflexed in fruit. The receptacle is large and convex, and here is the source of the so-called berry. It is pulpy or succulent, bearing the numerous achenes, which are hard, and usually regarded as the seeds.
The Wild Strawberry is rarely more than 8 in. in height. The flowers are in bloom in April and May. The Wild Strawberry is perennial, and besides the stolons which spread it, it is propagated by seeds.
There are three kinds of flowers: female producing much fruit, complete less fertile flowers, and male flowers. Hermaphrodite and female flowers may occur on the same umbel, and hermaphrodite and female flowers on different umbels, and similar combinations with male flowers.
As the stigmas mature before the anthers the plant is cross-pollinated as a rule. The honey is secreted and concealed by a narrow, fleshy ring at the base of the tube, and is protected by the stamens and outer carpels. The petals spread out horizontally, and insects alight on the central disk. If an insect should alight on the petals, it thrusts its head between the stamens and touches the stigmas. It would be self-pollinated if both were mature at once, but the stamens ripen later, and the anthers open and expand into a flat disk, narrowing the intervening space so that flies cannot reach the nectaries without touching the anthers, which open at their edge, and are covered with pollen along the latter only. Pollen falls on the stigmas if insects do not visit the flowers. The visitors are Empis, Eristalis, Syrphus, Melith-reptus, Rhingia, Syritta, Anthomyia, Musca, Anthrenus, Meligethes, Dasytes, Malachius, Mordella, Grammoptera, Thrips, Prosopis, Halictus, Andrena, Nomada, Apis, Oxybelus.
The fruit is an edible, brightly coloured receptacle, with soft outer coat, luscious when ripe, and dispersed by snails, birds, and man.
The Wild Strawberry is primarily a sand-loving plant, growing on sand soil, but requires also a fair amount of humus soil, and may also be a rocky-soil-loving species.
The fungi which infest the Strawberry are Sphcerotheca humuli, Sphcerella fragarice, Septoria fragarice.
The plant is galled by Aphelenchus fragarice, one of the Eel-worms. The flowers are attacked by the Golden Chafer; the fruit by ground beetles, Calathus cisteloides, Harpalus ruficornis, and Pterostichus vulgaris and P. madidus; the leaves by the Clay-coloured Weevil, Red-legged Weevil, Black Vine Weevil, and Strawberry-leaf Weevil; the roots by the small or garden Swift Moth, and Otiorhynchus picipes, O. tenebricosus, O. sulcatus. The moths Cream Spot Tiger, Arctia villica, Lampronia prelatella, Hesperia malvce, Marbled Carpet, Cidaria russata, Nepticula arcuata feed on it.
Fragaria, Pliny, is from the Latin fraga, meaning strawberries, which is from the Sanskrit ghra, fragrant, and the second Latin name means small, i.e. compared with F. elatior.
The Wild Strawberry is called Freiser, Hedge Strawberry, Strawberry.
This useful plant was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.
" The Strawberry grows underneath the nettle, And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality."
The runners were used in medicine, being called Strebery Cyses, and used in a preparation for wounds, and a " Drynk of Antioch ". As early as the reign of Edward I the Wild Strawberry was cultivated in England, and may be the origin of the Hautboy type (hautbois, high wood, of Bohemia).
Essential Specific Characters: 97. Fragaria vesca, L. - Stoloniferous, leaves green, leaflets ternate, sessile, hairy, peduncles erect with spreading hairs, flowers small, white, petals entire, calyx recurved in fruit, hairs on pedicels appressed, fruit fleshy with small achenes, on a receptacle.