Local Forages: Woodland Strawberry

Local Forages

Commonly found wild & cultivated edible plants
to use in the kitchen


Featured plant:
Woodland Strawberry

(Fragaria vesca)

“When California’s Woodland strawberries ripen to perfection, they soften, sweeten, and turn a rich, deep red color… but to me, this strawberry is the sweetest and most flavorful in the world. Harvesting these tiny berries, the diameter of a dime, or sometimes, if you’re lucky, a nickel, is a form of meditation” -- Judith Larner Lowry, California Foraging.

Woodland strawberry has flexible, thin leaves and looks like a smaller version of the domesticated strawberry and the berry plants spread to form masses of plants in full sun at the coast and in part-shade inland. The fruits are mature at a very small size, but have a highly concentrated sweet flavor; more so than all domesticated commercial fruit.

The woodland strawberry is found in open woodland edges throughout the California. It blooms February through May, and the fruit ripens from late March through June.  Pick the berries and do not ignore berries that have begun to dry up, because strawberries can be extremely sweet.

You may eat the berries fresh or freeze them and use like any strawberry.  The leaves, fresh or dried, are even usable to make an herbal tea, steep for about 30 minutes.

We like to plant these tasty treats along pathways and as groundcovers under trees or shrubs throughout the backyard garden. The like to be in filtered shade to part sun areas or wet and sunny locations. This plant may be found labeled as Alpine Strawberry which is the same species found throughout Europe. There are also some cultivated varieties that are also fun to use like ‘Pineapple’, which ripens to a white or pale yellow color and is tart like pineapple.  of Woodland strawberry to add variety in color and taste to create beautiful and delicious ground cover.

The details above were excerpted from: California Foraging by Judith Larner Lowry