Wildflowers, Plants and Ferns, Pacific Northwest
Of the wild foods on Vancouver Island, the wild berries rank as most popular and of the berries the Wild Strawberry are the best. Like many wild and cultivated fruits, the Wild Strawberry Plant belongs to the Rose Family. These perennial herbs form loose bluish green carpets speckled by clean white flowers.
Wild strawberries grow from short thick root stocks anchored to the ground by tough wiry roots. Long purple, red or brown tinted stalks bear three parted leaves 5 to 15 cm above a fibrous crown. Large saw like teeth line the edge of the often bluish green leaflets. The terminal tooth of each leaflet is usually shorter than or equal to adjacent teeth. This characteristic is often enough to distinguish wild strawberry from the wood strawberry whose terminal tooth is larger and longer than adjacent teeth.
Horizontal runners, called stolons, arch from the parent plant. Where they touch down, a new plant develops.
Several white flowers, about 3.0 cm across, perch atop a flexible hairy stem Small leafy sepals and bracts form a ring at the base of each flower. Within this cup are five bright white rounded petals. At the base of the petals, a whorl of stamens encircles the raised swollen end of the stem, a structure technically called the receptacle.
The swollen receptacle sports tiny yellow and green pistils, like pins protruding from a pincushion. As the fruit develops, the receptacle swells even more presenting the seeds as little pips on its surface. The mature receptacle is the delicious, though small fruit sought by the wild foragers.
You can find wild strawberry almost everywhere in British Columbia except the Queen Charlotte Islands, though it is much more common in the interior than along the coast, Vancouver Island is literally covered in them.