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Are Wild Strawberries Edible?

>13 July 2011
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Mock Strawberry

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… 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. Wild strawberries are delicious, and taste just like the strawberries you’d pick in your garden.

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

wild strawberry blossom

  • 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.

wild strawberries

  • Wild Strawberries dangle on the vine.
  • Mock Strawberries point straight up.

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.

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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27 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 :)

  • LaDawn said:

    I am new to Alabama and found this darling red mock strawberries poking up along the greenway trail. Two locals told me they were ‘poisonous,’ which I refused to believe. I like the name snake berries and the idea of infusing honey with them–I’m sure it will be beautiful!

  • Jim said:

    The Indian strawberry fruit is edible, but not palatable. Though its taste is sometimes compared to watermelon, this is a strained metaphor. The Indian strawberry has 3.4 percent sugar 1.5 percent protein and has about 60 milligrams of Vitamin C in a liter of juice. For comparison, a regular strawberry has about 6 percent sugar with ten times as much vitamin C. Like the strawberry, the Indian strawberry is not technically a berry, but an accessory fruit, The achenes are the true fruits – each has a style, a stigma and an ovule. The achenes are embedded in a the hypanthium, a cup-like structure at the base of the flower – it is the growth of the fleshy hypanthium that forms the “fruit.” The seeds from the achene (red in the case of Indian strawberry) are embedded in it. The leaves are also edible as a potherb – cooking is recommended

  • Joyce said:

    The little red strawberries I have growing in my flower bed must be mock strawberries. After reading all you had to say about them we tasted them and my daughter says the have a wild taste and taste more like green leaves might taste. Haven’t tasted them yet myself but my taste and smell left me a couple of years ago so I probably won’t be able to have an opion.

  • mary said:

    this was very interesting. I had always wondered if the wild strawberry (with the white flower) was edible but was afraid to try it. I have lots in my yard and will now try one of them. Have a few of the yellow flowered ones too but will leave them alone. Thanks for the info.

  • Yvonne said:

    When I was younger, myself and my friends would eat anything wild. I’m surprised we didn’t poison ourselves, but we were lucky. Our river had a long earthen levee for at least a mile or so, and in the Spring, it’s was covered with wild “fake” strawberries. We certainly tried to eat them but they were worse than cardboard, yuck. We did find wild white peaches, blueberries, blackberries, dewberries, plums, gooseberries, elderberries, mulberries, grapes, persimmons, apples, wild tomatoes, wild cherries, nuts, acorns, honeysuckle, violets, dandelion greens, poke salad, sour grass, maypops, wild onions, thorny oranges, bamboo shoots and crayfish in the little creeks and streams. We never found any real wild strawberries except where someone had an old abandoned patch. It’s no wonder we were so healthy then because we certainly ate plenty of wild food. There were several wild melons around, but we were told not to eat them because they’d make us sick. People said they were volunteers from the melons farmers had planted for their pigs and livestock. Of course we tried anyway, but they were bitter and we couldn’t get enough down to make us sick, I guess. Thinking back, it’s amazing how many edible foods we found while foraging in the fields and woods in our native Georgia. We were “country” kids and in summer we left the houses in the morning and didn’t return home until supper time. Our parents were not afraid for us when we were all together, our little band of neighborhood kids. I suppose they were right, because we’re all still alive, so that’s something, right?

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