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Are Wild Strawberries Edible?

>13 July 2011
 
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They’re everywhere. Little red berries on creeping plants. They’re a miniature version of strawberries. And they look like they’d be nice to eat.

But are they edible? Are they safe to snack on?

I’ve 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… you need to be sure that the strawberries you are thinking of foraging for are truly “wild” and not “false” strawberries.

False, or “mock” strawberries are “not fit for human consumption”… whatever that means. I can’t find anything that says they are poisonous or harmful, just that they don’t taste good.

There are a few different ways to tell the difference between a true wild strawberry and it’s deceptive counterpart. The easiest for me to remember are…

  • Wild Strawberries have white blooms.
  • Mock Strawberries have yellow blooms.
  • Wild Strawberries will have a strong strawberry scent when crushed.
  • Mock Strawberries don’t smell like anything when crushed.

So, armed with this new knowledge, I took my oldest daughter (Jada) 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.

Bummer.

At least we know for sure now, though. And it was fun exploring nature and learning a little something with my girl.

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22 Comments »

  • Maegan said:

    Nice to know. I’ve grown up seeing the little berries on my grandmothers farm and in the woods but I never knew there were two kinds. Thanks for the helpful tip!

  • sandra said:

    we dont have them in our yard, but when I was little one of my grandmothers houses had them, we always called them “snake berries”, and we were always told they were poisionous too. the bad ones are small, little miniature looking. I wonder if true wild strawberries are small or big like regular strawberries?

  • Jessica said:

    According to “Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants” by Samuel Thayer the mock strawberries aren’t fit for human consumption only because they are almost tastless. We can attest to this – my sons eat the ones in our yard occasionally but mostly they like to pick them to feed to the chickens.

  • Lorie said:

    We have these in our backyard and everyone tells me that they’re poisonous too so I’ve been wondering this also!

  • Tabatha said:

    I’ve been eating wild strawberries since I was a kid and probably was eating “fake” ones too and I’m still alive! I’ve never heard they were poisonous.

  • Tami said:

    We eat the mock strawberries. Both of my children and I are still alive and well. My girlfriend and her 2 year old are also alive and well. :-)

  • Mrs. J said:

    This is such a great post! I have wild strawberries growing all over my yard, and I tried eating one and it was not good. I decided that wild strawberries must not taste good — but my plants have yellow flowers, so they must be the fake kind!

  • Lauren-Mae Cook said:

    Thanks for the information! It’s good to know!

  • Nikki R said:

    This is interesting as I had never heard of the mock strawberries before.My husband had not either.We both grew up eating the little wild ones(white flowers)and our kids enjoy eating them now too.Now I am curious if there are even mock ones in our state?The mini wild ones taste just like the real bigger ones.Nikki

  • Matthew said:

    Too many people say something is poison just because of ignorance, and people wonder why we are so disconnected with food when we go and say everything we see growing wild is a weed or poisonous.

  • Lorie said:

    I agree Matthew :)

  • Britni @ Our Eventual Homestead said:

    We’ve only ever found the mock strawberries. I always thought they were wild strawberries but was disappointed by the fact that they tasted like nothing. Thanks for the info!

  • Gloria said:

    Another way to tell the difference. “Fake strawberries” face up, showing their bright red faces. Real strawberries dangle down and can be harder to see.

  • Joey Carol said:

    Mock strawberries are safe, but totally tasteless. Instead of eating them by themselves, chop them up in a salad.

  • PJ said:

    This is what my dad taught me. Snake strawberries have a bumpy texture like little hairs growing from the berry. I was told to never eat these. A wild strawberry looks just like the big ones you buy at the grocery store or pick at a strawberry patch but is very small. Actually to me they are sweeter than the larger ones.

  • Kelly said:

    I found this site doing a google search because i keep finding this plant on the lawn. LOL,my Toy Fox Terrier LOVES to eat the leaves sometimes when her tummy is upset (she is on phenobarb for seizures)I didn’t let her eat it at first,but she insisted. So i figured she knows what she needs. Sure enough,this stuff works for her. But I didn’t know what it was. Thanks for the great posts. I hope my info helps someone out there :D

  • Sam said:

    They’re perfectly edible, but yes they have a mild ‘vegetable-ish’ flavor with a hint of berry-like scent. They’re not sweet or even tart like cultivated strawberries. The seeds are nicely crunchy though. You can put them in a bowl with a few spoonfuls of honey and stir them up though, or throw them on a salad or a bowl of ice cream as a garnish.

  • Don G. said:

    Thank you for the information!!!I just moved here and now know the ones across the street are PHONIES,(so I was afraid to try one, didn’t want to be pushing up daisies tomorrow!!)Glad I know they are not poisonous, but , still won’t eat one anyway. I like taste not tasteless foods. Again, THANKS FOR THE INFO!!!!! Don G. in Pa.

  • Jeanne said:

    I have both real and “fake” wild strawberries growing in my yard. The real ones have light colored seeds on the outside, and the fakers have red seeds that protrude from the outside. The blossoms are different colors too.

  • Gordon said:

    I was born and raised in the country where we were taught at a very early age the difference in wild edible strawberries and false strawberries we referred to as “snake berries.” Picking wild strawberries, black berries, muscadine grapes and wild plums among other fruits was important, as these were future preserves, jams, jellies and fresh pies. etc.. Also there was a lot of home made wine. I don’t suppose most kids now days would get a thrill from hunting and picking thes delicious wild friuts. Although I’m quite sure they would enjoy the pies, tarts, home made strawberry ice cream and other delights.

  • Ron said:

    Great info. I saw what I thought was a patcwild strawberries

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Glad I could help, Ron! I hope you’re able to find some wild strawberries to forage :)

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