How to distinguish between Wild (Fragaria virginiana) and Woodland (F. vesca) Strawberry

Make sure you note and take pictures of essential features helping to identify a wild strawberry species (F. virginiana vs. F. vesca):

  1. a well-focused close-up of a full leaf, showing:
    a) the terminal teeth (shorter and narrower vs. extending over and similar to their neighbors);
    b) leaf veining (rather smooth vs. well-pronounced);
    c) leaf stem (very hairy vs. sparsely hairy);
    d) leaflets stalks (all three vs. at most the central one);
    e) leaf toothing (finer, pointing toward the terminal tooth and starting at half the length of the bottom side vs. coarse, pointing outwards, starting much lower);
  2. an overall side picture of a flowering plant, showing a cluster of flowers (at leaf level or under vs. above leaf level).
  3. a close-up of a flower’s sepals (at most as long as the petals vs. at least as long as the petals).
  4. fruit with seeds (achenes) in their own shallow pits vs. on the surface.
  5. side-view of red or still green fruit (more globular vs. conical).
  6. general habitat (open, drier spaces vs. more moist, in the shade).
  7. Beach/Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) has leathery, dark green, and shiny leaves.

See also


Wow THANK YOU. I just put things down as Fragaria, cuz I’m lazy, don’t have my flora with me, and forget what features to take photos of. I wish the salient ID characteristics where listed at the top of every wiki entry or species description :genie:


This is extremely useful. Thank you!


Please note, that pictures of flowers alone are insufficient to determine Fragaria species. I would like to ask the curators to change the main picture of any species or subspecies which features only a flower.


Fantastic first post, as well. Gettin’ right down to bid’niss.

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Any user can add or reorder the taxon images, so feel free to make more appropriate choices, remembering that the first image does not have to provide all identification details, but serves as a sort of icon to indicate that species throughout the site and app. You might want to have a read of this thread first:


Thank you, deboas. I changed the main photo of F. virginiana and added some more. I am on the lookout for more good pictures of F. vesca. Unfortunately, many F. virginiana are misidentified as vesca.

If we put a flower as the main photo, users tend to think that there is something unique to it and tend to take close-up pictures of flowers, neglecting the leaves, stalks, and stolons, which are essential.

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Thank you for your efforts in correcting all of these, by the way! I’ve been keeping pretty well on top of the californian observations, but the rest of the US was a bit much.

Thanks for putting this together. I love when I “see” what was previously mysterious. This guide and your helpful check-ins did that for me.
I have been starting to ID based on your information. I like to start slow, so I get feedback prior to going on a mass ID spree.


I find the GoBotany numbered notes at the bottom of the page very confusing. I don’t understand what 1a., 2a., 1b., 2b. pertain to, especially with paragraphs formatted as they are. In particular, on the page for Fragaria virginiana: there are notes numbered
2. Fragaria virginiana Duchesne
and 2a., 2b., 2c. clearly pertaining to Fragaria virginiana and its subspecies.

However, what do the following notes pertain to?

"1a. Petioles, peduncles, pedicels, and stolons with appressed to appressed-ascending hairs, often appearing nearly glabrous to the naked eye … 2a. F. virginiana ssp. glauca (S. Wats.) Staudt

1b. Petioles with spreading hairs [Fig. 841], the hairs visible to the naked eye, the peduncles, pedicels, and stolons either similarly pubescent (especially in the proximal portion) or with appressed to appressed-ascending hairs"

Are 1a. and 1b. pertaining to Fragaria vesca? If so, why 2a. is in the same paragraph as 1a.?

Please help me make some sense out of it?

I find it confusing, too. You could try/compare to this key:

Thank you, annkatrinrose! This is easier. It’s the first time (for me) to read about the angle of the veins to the midrib.
Would you know of a picture of Fragaria with “subsessile” leaflets?

I don’t know, that term doesn’t even exist in my Illustrated Glossary of Plant Identification Terminology. Maybe something like in this picture? There does seem to be the teeniest bit of a stalk, at least for the terminal leaflet, but maybe not quite enough to call it a petiolule.

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I have to make a correction: Flowers alone are not sufficient to make an ID, except for pistillate (or staminate) flowers.

If you find a flower that has no stamens (or no pistils) and it is found in a region where only one species may have pistillate (staminate) flowers, then it’s worth taking a picture. Still, having leaves, especially terminate tips of leaflets as supporting evidence, would be beneficial.

What does a pistillate Fragaria flower look like? See here:

I am yet to find a staminate flower among iNat observations or in real life.

Similarly, if a particular species may have an abnormally high number of petals or the margins of the petals are peculiar (e.g., crenate or wavy), or the color is other than white, then it is worth documenting.
Please don’t submit single pictures featuring just a regular bisexual Fragaria flower.

Also, in order to determine a subspecies, you must take pictures of all sorts of stems: petioles, peduncles, pedicels, and stolons. Pay attention to hairiness.

Okay so this came in handy - I’m correct in thinking this is F. virginiana? I want to make sure I’m looking at the right stuff

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Doesn’t virginiana have bluer leaves, without the prominent veins?

The rain is probably messing with the color and my phone isnt the greatest at color balance.

Regardless, i could be wrong, easily

Yes, it is Fragaria Virginiana. Its characteristic features include:
- central tooth << adjacent ones;
- upper side leaf veining is smooth;
- side leaflets have short stalks (petiolules);
- tips of the leaflet teeth point to the terminus;
- inflorescence is corymbose, with the peduncle shorter than the adult leaf’s petiole (flowers at or below adult leaves’ level).

As for the leaf color and texture, the full description for Fragaria virginiana is:
- Leaves thin but ± stout (slightly thicker than F. vesca ), sometimes slightly leathery, green to bluish green, sometimes bright green, sometimes glaucous.


Sweet, seriously, this helps so mu h

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Not necessarily. F. virginiana may have light green leaves and “veins less pronounced” than F. vesca.
“Veins less pronounced” means the veins do not form deep indentations on the top surface of the leaf, as they do for F. vesca, which makes the leaf surface look more crimpled or waved, or more 3-dimensional. Here is an example of F. vesca:

In North America, there are four subspecies of Fragaria virginiana and four subspecies of Fragaria vesca. In most regions, only two subspecies of each species can be found. On the west coast of North America, there also is Fragaria chiloensis = Beach Strawberry, which has dark green and leathery leaves.

Most subspecies can be identified only by a comprehensive analysis of other parts of Fragaria plant, namely the stems, petioles, petiolules, and stolons and their hairiness patterns (appressed-. Most people ignore those parts and take pictures only of the flowers and leaves.