Thursday, June 2, 2011

Barren Strawberries

Nature Watch

By Susan Thurn,
Cable Natural History Museum

When we walk through the forest right now we see the beautiful white of the trilliums, the white of the spring beauties, hepatica, bloodroot, starflowers, spring anemones, the multi-colors of the wild violets, and one of my favorites, the yellow barren strawberries.

Barren strawberries are common in woods and clearings, rising up out of the ground from 3-8 inches. The yellow flowers have five petals that bloom into June. A flower that belongs to the rose family, its leaves are made up of three leaflets on long stalks that are oval-shaped, with broad teeth. The fruits are not really berries, but have single seeds that are inedible, which is where the name barren strawberry comes from. It also grows close to wild strawberries.

Easily grown in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade, barren strawberry spreads across the ground with runners, or rhizomes that creep just below the surface of the soil. They can grow in many soil types, but actually prefer slightly acidic soils. Due to its adaptability, this plant can be found in a variety of habitats such as meadows, deciduous or mixed-hardwood forests. Plants often seen growing along with barren strawberries include sugar maple, white ash, ostrich or cinnamon fern, and false solomon’s seal.

Barren strawberries are considered an endangered species or plant of special concern in some states. Garlic mustard and other invasive plant species have pushed out this plant in many habitats. In other areas barren strawberries are used as native plant ground cover for difficult areas around our homes. It has even been used in xeriscape gardens because it is drought tolerant.

Spring brings so many amazing things to observe every day. Be sure to get outdoors in our northwoods back yards to enjoy it all!

For over 44 years, the Museum has served as a guide and mentor to generations of visitors and residents interested in learning to better appreciate and care for the extraordinary natural resources of the region. The Museum invites you to visit its facility in Cable at 13470 County Highway M. The new exhibit, The Joy of Birds: Feathers in Focus opens in May, 2011. Find us on the web at to learn more about our exhibits and programs. Also discover us on the web at, on Facebook, or at our blogspot, to learn more about our exhibits and programs.

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