What are these berries in my yard?
June 9, 2009 7:51 AM   Subscribe

What's this bright magenta berry growing in my yard?

Last night, my husband discovered berries growing all over our backyard. This is what they look like:

Head on
Close up

They're about the size of my thumbnail, are growing in a partly-sunny area, and are close to the ground. The berries are roughly strawberry shaped, have no odor when crushed, and are slightly pulpy inside. We're in the middle of Ohio, hardiness zone 5B.

The people who lived here before us were avid gardeners for some time, so it's possible that this is something that they had cultivated at one point.

Anyone have any idea what this is? If it's something edible, how do we best encourage it to grow? (We're okay with losing the lawn.) If it's something poisonous, what's the best way to get rid of it so that the gaggle of neighborhood children and dogs don't eat it and kill themselves?
posted by MeghanC to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Wild strawberry, I believe.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:55 AM on June 9, 2009

Yup, looks like wild strawberry.
posted by exogenous at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2009

I meant to link to a bigger pic.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:01 AM on June 9, 2009

Wow, that was fast! Thanks so much--we'd thought they might be strawberries, but have never seen immature strawberries that were red or that had seed-spikes like these do, so we ruled it out.

Any suggestions on how to encourage these, then? Currently they're scattered over about a quarter of the yard and growing amongst grass and weeds. I'd love to have the strawberries take over completely.
posted by MeghanC at 8:13 AM on June 9, 2009

We've got them in our backyard in Washington DC. Ours are nearly flavorless and spread pretty vigorously, returning each spring.
posted by exogenous at 8:15 AM on June 9, 2009

They're mature like that; wild ones are tiny. They don't have a ton of flavor, so most people treat them like weeds.

If you really like them you could pull up the surrounding grass ad weeds to give them room to expand. They're pretty hardy so they don't need a ton of encouragement to take over.
posted by Alison at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2009

Actually, hers looks like wood strawberry, from exogenous' link. Which would explain "no taste".
posted by lleachie at 10:07 AM on June 9, 2009

That's something we always called a grass berry. Edible, but no taste. Real wild strawberries have an intense flavor that leaves a domesticated strawberry in the dust! Keep the grass berries around if you like turtles, though; they will eat them.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 10:12 AM on June 9, 2009

And they make an excellent ground cover as they spread like crazy and are hardy. I like them to cover the bare spots around bigger plants to keep the weeds down.
posted by x46 at 10:56 AM on June 9, 2009

Those used to grow in my backyard when I was a kid. I always identified them as being some kind of strawberry, but they had no taste.
posted by MadamM at 1:48 PM on June 9, 2009

They're mock strawberries, not wild strawberries. Strawberry is Fragaria, these are Duchesnea.


Actually, according to Wikipedia my genus name is "defunct," whoops.
posted by thebazilist at 2:16 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Right. Mock Strawberries -- not wild strawberries. We've got them growing in our garden. They're a VERY aggressive ground cover!
posted by rhartong at 2:46 PM on June 9, 2009

If they have no taste, they are certainly mock strawberries. Real wild strawberries taste amazing and are sweeter than any domesticated variant.

It makes me terribly sad to think that some people have never experienced the early-summer luxury of gathering wild strawberries, collecting them on a grass straw, and carrying them home to eat with ice cream on on the dock...
posted by gemmy at 9:22 AM on June 10, 2009

We tasted them tonight, and they're definitely wood strawberries--no taste at all. Thanks!
posted by MeghanC at 7:46 PM on June 10, 2009

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