( Originally Published 1933 )
There are many strawberries, varying in the size and shape of the fruit, the facility with which the runners are produced, and the earliness and frequency of fruiting, as well as the delicacy of the flavor. From hundreds of horticultural varieties, and between twenty and thirty species, I have selected the following for their historical interest.
The strawberry longest known in Europe is the Fragaria vesca, the Wood Strawberry, a native throughout the whole Northern Hemisphere. It grows in woods, especially in mountainous districts where, because of the variations in altitudes, the fruits continue to ripen from June to September.
The plants are small, from six to twelve inches high, with leaves divided into three.
Stem. The stems are pinkish and woolly.
Leaf. The almost palmate leaves are divided into three, and have sharply and coarsely dentated margins. The surface is uneven, swelling up between the veinings, shiny green above, dull below, and hairy on all the ribs below.
Flower. The white blossoms, and later the fruits, are borne on erect branching, hairy stems standing higher than the leaves.
Fruit. The fruit is rounded, or conical and pendant. It is a delicious berry, a little tart, tasting of roses, and pleasantly. Its smell is characteristic.
HISTORY AND LEGEND
This species, according to Sturtevant's Notes, was mentioned as a wild plant by Virgil, Ovid, and Pliny. De Candolle says it was cultivated in the mediaeval period. Shakespeare mentions it, and in his day the doctors ordered a tea from the leaves to provoke urine, and used the roots for their astringent qualities. The leaves of this plant decorate the coronets of the English nobility, and hence the expression, "strawberry leaves," has come to mean a dukedom.
Prince in 1790 lists the "wood strawberry," and John Bartram lists the F. vesca, virginiana, and elatior.