At this time of year they seem to be everywhere. With spring comes a blanket of green, creeping plants speckled with plump, delicious looking red berries. They look like a miniature version of strawberries. They also look like they’d be nice to eat.
But are they edible? Are they safe to snack on?
In the past I’d heard that wild strawberries are poisonous, but I’ve been wanting to know for sure what to tell the kids about these bright berries. Up until now, I’ve just been telling them I didn’t know if they are safe, so they weren’t to put them in their mouths. But after doing some researching today, I’ve discovered exactly what we needed to know.
The short answer is: YES, wild strawberries are edible, and delicious, and even used for medicinal purposes!
However… there are two types of “wild” strawberries: True wild strawberries, and “Indian Strawberries”, also called “mock” or “false” strawberries.
Mock strawberries are not poisonous, but they don’t have any flavor to speak of. If you eat one you’ll be fine, but you won’t be very impressed by the taste left in your mouth. You might even spit it out for blandness.
Wild strawberries, on the other hand, are delicious. They taste more like the strawberries you might pick in your garden or buy at the grocery store, though arguably better. Though they’re small in size, true wild strawberries are bursting with flavor.
Fortunately for us all, there are a few surefire ways to tell the difference between a true wild strawberry and it’s deceptive cousin.
Here are the easiest identifiers to remember…
Wild Strawberry Blossom
- Wild Strawberries have white blossoms.
- Mock Strawberries have yellow blossoms.
- Wild Strawberries will have a strong strawberry scent when crushed.
- Mock Strawberries don’t smell like anything when crushed.
- Wild Strawberries dangle on the vine.
- Mock Strawberries point straight up.
So, armed with this new knowledge, I took my oldest daughter outside with me to a spot where we knew of some berries growing. Since there were no blooms on the plant, only berries, we went right to crushing them to test their scent.
And we both agreed. No scent. Not true wild strawberries.
Later on we discovered a patch of true wild strawberries growing among some dead tree stumps behind our house. They’re truly the most delicious strawberries we’ve ever tasted.
It’s good to know that if the kids decide to put either one of these berries in their mouth, I have nothing to worry about. As a matter of fact, they’re both highly nutritious, and packed with vitamin C. Gotta love that!
Do you have wild strawberries growing nearby?
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