When I was a just learning about foraging (morel mushroom hunting with my dad), I discovered there were these delightful little strawberries growing in my grandpa’s backyard. Honestly, I can’t remember if I was told that they were toxic or just “don’t eat those” because they were in that unsure category of might make you sick. But I still loved them and decided I couldn’t eat them because they were fairy food (aka anything that looks like I should be able to eat it, but wasn’t sure if it would make me sick or not).
Many years later when Jason and I bought our house, I was delighted to find this childhood plant friend growing in our yard. We now encourage it to take over as ground cover in our garden borders and anywhere else it would like to. And you know what? It is edible after all! I came across a post this year by Alexis Nikole (@blackforager on IG) and she filled us all in that these are Mock Strawberries (not woodland like I was told as a kiddo) and that while you can eat them, they just kind of just taste like… water! So maybe not a foraging gourmet feast, but a long way from sick making.
This one was a little bit of a departure from the series and was started indoors during Art Walk as a demo piece, then finished on-site outside. The collection of berries in stems are bursting from an unseen cup so I could have something to draw. I loved it so much I decided to head out to the yard and finish it on my own over the following weeks.
About Mock Strawberry
Duchesnea indica known commonly as mock strawberry, Indian-strawberry, or false strawberry, is a flowering plant in the family Rosaceae.
Other Common Names
Duchesnea indica is commonly referred to as the mock strawberry, Indian- strawberry, India mock strawberry, or false strawberry.
Duchesnea indica is native to eastern and southern Asia, but has been introduced to many other areas as a medicinal and an ornamental plant, subsequently naturalizing in many regions worldwide.
“In folklore it is said that in India, the mock strawberry is to be used as an offering to the gods.”
Source: Indian Strawberry, http://www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/IndianStrawberry.asp.
Medicinal/edible: “The fruits and leaves of mock strawberry are edible, but may not taste as delicious as true strawberries. However, the plant is used extensively as a medicinal herb, since it contains protein, iron, vitamin C and other healthy elements. People can crush the fresh leaves of the plant and apply externally. It can help treat weeping eczema, burns boils, etc. It’s also used in the treatment of snake bites. Moreover, you can add its fruits and leaves in salads for additional health benefits.”
Source: “Mock Strawberry: A Useful Medicinal Herb.” 404, news.cgtn.com/news/2019-07-25/Mock-strawberry-A-useful-medicinal-herb-IClGX47OEw/index.html
Not Extinct. “Indian, or mock strawberry, is a weedy, ground-hugging plant that roots from runners. The flowers are solitary, arising from leafy joints along the stems, with 5 leafy bracts at the base of the flower that are toothed and larger than the sepals. Petals 5, yellow. Blooms April-June. Leaves compound with 3 parts; leaflets coarsely toothed, each with its own small stalk; leaves and stems sparsely hairy. Fruits resemble miniature strawberries, but they are not juicy and lack flavor. The fruits are produced April-June, and sporadically through September. ”
Source: “Indian Strawberry (Mock Strawberry).” Missouri Department of Conservation, mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/indian-strawberry-mock-strawberry.
10% of all print sales are donated to Story County Conservation, Iowa Arboretum, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Learn more about the entire Backyard Botanical Collection by visiting the collection’s gallery page. Visit the online gallery to see originals and prints available.
Thank you for visiting and spending time learning about the botanicals in my backyard. May this bring you a deeper understanding and joy in your own ecology.