Starting a series within a series, I will be highlighting shade plants that grow well underneath trees, especially California Live Oak. I have a deep shade area beneath many trees here in my own garden and i am constantly looking for plants that can help green this area. — Douglas

I have been looking for a good woodland ground cover for our back garden and I have come across the recommendation of California Strawberry many times. That said, I haven’t been able to locate a source for these strawberries close to me. I think this would be an excellent choice for under the heavy trees and would greatly dress up that area. Something that would provide some fruit, too, would be a great extra benefit!

Wood Strawberry/California strawberry (Fragaria californica)

Illustration Fragaria vesca0 

Fragaria californica

Photo: Las Pilitas Nursery

What are your thoughts on this Interesting Plant? Drop a note in the comments!

Fragaria vesca, commonly called wild strawberrywoodland strawberryAlpine strawberryEuropean strawberry, or fraise des bois, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the rose family that grows naturally throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, and that produces edible fruits.[1][2] 

Five to eleven soft-hairy white flowers are borne on a green, soft-hairy 3–15 centimetres (1.2–5.9 in) stalk that usually lifts them above the leaves. The light-green leaves are trifoliate (in threes) with toothed margins. The plant spreads by means of runners (stolons).[3][4][5] 

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. In the southern part of its range, it can only grow in shady areas; further north it tolerates more sun.[6] It is tolerant of a variety of moisture levels (except very wet or dry conditions).[6] It can survive mild fires and/or establish itself after fires.[6]

Although F. vesca primarily propagates via runners, viable seeds are also found in soil seed banks and seem to germinate when the soil is disturbed (away from existing populations of F. vesca).[6]

Its leaves serve as significant food source for a variety of ungulates, such as mule deer and elk, and the fruit are eaten by a variety of mammals and birds that also help to distribute the seeds in their droppings.[6] — Wikipedia

More information on Wood Strawberry/California strawberry (Fragaria californica):


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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas