Wild Strawberries

Fragaria vesca

Also, Known As:

  • Alpine Strawberry
  • Common Strawberry
  • Mountain Strawberry
  • Pineapple Strawberry
  • Wild Strawberries
  • Wood Strawberry
  • Woodland Strawberry

Wild strawberry plants are perennially growing and usually grow up to a height of one foot (0.3 meters). Plants of these species have the aptitude to endure frosts. While they blossom during the period between April and May, the seeds of the wild strawberry plants mature during June-July. The flowers borne by this species have both the male as well as the female sex organs (hermaphrodite) and they are insect-pollinated.

The wild strawberry, also known as alpine strawberry, was once very popular as a therapeutic herb. In fact, all parts of the plant, including the leaves, roots, stems and fruits, were used to treat various disorders. While the roots of the strawberry plant were a common medication for diarrhea, the stem was useful for treating wounds. On the other hand, the berries were regarded as a calming medication. According to herbalist Gerard, the strawberries not only satiated thirst and cool the heat in the stomach but also cures the inflammation of the liver. However, he had warned that consuming strawberries during the winter or on ‘cold stomach’ was a hazard as it could lead to a cough and digestive disorders.

It may be mentioned here that during the summers, hikers often break their journeys to taste the wild strawberries that have a fragrance that reminds one of the roses. In the past, herbalists as well as pharmacists valued the strawberries highly for their therapeutic properties and suggested their use to treat a number of disorders. According to a herbalist of the 17th century, the strawberries caused a calming effect on the liver, spleen and blood and even the irritating stomach. At the same time, the berries satiated thirst as well as stimulated and soothed the fainting spirits. He further said that the strawberries were effective to cure inflammations, but advised people to avoid using them during fevers as they might cause acidity in the stomach and give rise to hysterics.

Another botanist and a physician of the 18th century, Carolus Linnaeus is said to have consumed plenty of strawberries regularly with a view to keeping himself free from gout. Although the berries are still recommended for curing the disorder, there is no scientific evidence that suggests their effectiveness in such cases. In the 20th-century strawberry tea was in vogue as a tonic. As the tea was somewhat caustic to taste, it was used to treat diarrhea and also in the form of gargle for an aching throat. Many herbal medicine practitioners also prescribe eating the fresh strawberry fruits to promote bowel movements.

Parts Used in Herbal Medicine

Leaves, fruit, root.

Use Of Wild Strawberry

The leaves of the wild strawberry plant are gently astringent in nature and hence are used as a diuretic to enhance the outflow of urine. Although the strawberry plant is hardly in use these days as a therapeutic herb, one may still use it to cure stomach disorders like diarrhea and dysentery. While the leaves are boiled in water and used as a gargle to treat aching throat, they also form an important ingredient in some lotions used to treat burns and scrape or scratches on the skin. Many herbalists in Europe still use the leaves of the strawberry plant as a diuretic and often recommend them as dietary supplements to cure disorders such as tuberculosis, arthritis, gout, and rheumatism or joint pain.

The fruits or berries of this plant are consumed fresh and possess an excellent flavor akin to strawberry wine. In fact, the berries of wild strawberry are further delicate compared to the common strawberry. The berries of this plant are said to possess antioxidant attributes while some people claiming that they are also useful in combating cancer. The juice extracts of wild strawberry fruits also possess therapeutic properties and are employed in treating gastritis. As the fruits possess antibacterial properties, there was a time when herbalists used their juice to treat typhoid.

In the past, leaves of the wild strawberry plants were also used for preparing an herbal tea that was taken to cure diarrhea, suppress stomach disorders as well as to augment appetites. In fact, the leaves of this plant are appetizing and enclose vitamin C. It may be mentioned here that the leaves of the alpine strawberries are said to possess natural bleaching attributes. The juice extracted from the leaves of alpine strawberry may possibly be employed to make the teeth whiter and when this juice is applied externally, it bleaches the skin.

Culinary uses

Habitually, strawberries are consumed raw in the form of a fresh fruit. In addition, they are also consumed in strawberry shortcake in particular and processed to make ice creams, mousses, fruit juice, jams as well as jelly, candies, and an assortment of baked items. Some people also ferment strawberries to produce liqueur (for instance, the Italian fragoli) or wine.

Habitat and Growing Wild Strawberry

Wild strawberries are indigenous to all parts of Europe and the temperate climatic zones in the Asian continent. The leaves and fruits of the plant, which possess high medicinal value, are harvested during early summer.

Wild strawberries are generally propagated by their seeds, which are sown in a greenhouse during the beginning of spring. Generally, it takes about four weeks or a little longer for the seeds to germinate. Initially, the seedlings are extremely small and have a sluggish growth, but soon they begin to grow very fast. When the plantlets have grown sufficiently big to be handled, prick them individually and transplant them in their permanent locations outdoors in summer. Alternately, wild strawberries may also be propagated by division of their runners, if possible, undertaken during the period between July and August with a view to enabling the new plants to establish as a crop for the ensuing year. If required, the young seedlings can also be transplanted outdoors in the next spring. However, in this case, they should not be permitted to bear fruits in the first year of their existence. You may also plant the runners of wild strawberries outdoors directly into their permanent positions.

It is worth mentioning here that wild strawberries are vulnerable to some diseases caused by fungal infections, counting leaf spots, anthracnose, withering, decomposition’s, blights and powdery mildew. Insects that invade this plant include aphids as well as spider mites. When the climatic conditions are extremely hot, it may also result in the scorching of the leaves.

Constituents

  • fruit acids
  • minerals
  • mucilage
  • salicylates
  • sugars
  • tannins
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B

Applications

Wild strawberries have multiple therapeutic advantages and different parts of the herb may be applied in different forms. While the leaves of wild strawberry may be used to prepare an infusion, the fruits may be eaten fresh or applied as a poultice and also taken as tonic wine.

Leaves:
INFUSION: Infusion prepared with the leaves of wild strawberry may be taken to cure diarrhea, inflammation in the gastric tract, infection as well as jaundice. This infusion is also effective to invigorate the appetite. Blended with other herbs like meadowsweet and St. John’s wort, the infusion may also be taken to treat arthritic pains. When combined with celery seeds, the infusion may be used to cure gout.
Fruit:
FRESH: Eating fresh strawberries acts as a tonic for the liver and is also beneficial for curing gastritis. Strawberries are also effective for speedy convalescence or recuperation after a bout of hepatitis. In addition, these fruits provide a calming effect during feverish situations and do not lead to fermentation in the stomach.
POULTICE: Crushed strawberries may be applied to the skin affected by sunburn. It is also helpful in treating skin irritations.
TONIC WINE: Permeate strawberries in wine to prepare a conventional medication to ‘revive the spirits and make the heart merrier’.