Indian Strawberry, False Strawberry, Mock Strawberry
Synonyms of Potentilla indica (23) (Updated on 1-13-23 from Plants of the World Online): Duchesnea indica (Andrews) Teschem. (1835), Duchesnea indica var. albicarpa Y.N.Lee (2004), Duchesnea indica f. albocaput Naruh. (1992), Duchesnea indica var. major Makino (1914), Duchesnea indica var. microphylla T.T.Yu & T.C.Ku (1980), Duchesnea indica var. typica Makino (1914)(not validly publ.), Duchesnea major (Makino) Makino (1921), Fragaria arguta Lindl. ex Wall. (1829)(nom. nud.), Fragaria arguta Lindl. ex Hook.f. (1878), Fragaria indica Andrews (1807), Fragaria malayana Roxb. (1832), Fragaria nilagirica Zenker (1835), Fragaria roxburghii Wight & Arn. (1834), Potentilla denticulosa Ser. (1825), Potentilla durandii Torr. & A.Gray (1840), Potentilla indica f. albicaput (Naruh.) H.Ohashi (2008), Potentilla indica var. microphylla (T.T.Yu & T.C.Ku) H.Ohashi (2008), Potentilla indica var. serrulata Th.Wolf (1908), Potentilla khasiana C.B.Clarke ex Dikshit & Panigrahi (1979 publ. 1981), Potentilla manipurensis G.Watt (1979 publ. 1981)(nom. nud.), Potentilla trifida Pall. (1771), Potentilla trifida Lehm. (1851)(nom. illeg.), Potentilla wallichiana var. ternata Th.Wolf (1908)
Potentilla indica (Andrews) Th.Wolf is the accepted scientific name for this species of Potentilla. It was named and described as such by Theodor Franz Wolf in Synopsis der Mitteleuropaischen Flora in 1904. It was first named Fragaria indica by Henry Cranke (Charles) Andrews in Botanists’ Repository in 1807.
I noticed a few websites still use the name Duchesnea indica (Andrews) Teschem. as the accepted scientific name. It was named and described as such by James Engelbert Teschemacher in Horticultural Register, and Gardener’s Magazine in 1835. POWO has this name listed as a synonym of Potentilla indica.
Chloroplast genetic sequence data reveal this species should be placed back in the Potentilla genus.
The genus, Potentilla L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-13-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 49 species in the Potentilla genus. It is a member of the plant family Rosaceae with a total of 110 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The above distribution map for Potentilla indica is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is similar but they are still using the species name Duchesnea indica…
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I found this plant along the creek in a wooded area behind the farm (on the neighbor’s property) on April 14 in 2020. Many years ago I lived in Springfield (Missouri) and the yard on one side of the house was LOADED with these strawberry plants with yellow flowers. Their fruit was small and shaped like a strawberry with LOADS of seeds. I thought they were some sort of wild strawberry so I picked one and gave it a try. It was so bland and tasteless. It was hard to believe it was a strawberry. Well, now I know they weren’t actually wild strawberries at all. I was so glad when I found several colonies along the creek I could photograph. Weird how I have walked along the creek in this area for many years and never paid much attention because I was mushroom hunting… I haven’t found mushrooms here for a very long time, so it is best I stick with wildflowers. I planned on going back later to take photos of the fruit but so far I haven’t made it… Well, I have been back there but I didn’t see any Potentilla indica.
Potentilla indica is a perennial, trailing wildflower whose leaves resemble strawberries. They favor fairly moist, rich soil in part-shade. They are an introduced species in the U.S. and have made themselves quite at home in lawns and open woodlands.
Although some information online says they are poisonous, they certainly are not. They are, however, basically tasteless even though their appearance beckons you to give them a try. After all, who could resist a juicy red strawberry? Besides tasteless, some authors describe it as being insipid (which means tasteless). The fruit can be used as an extender for other fruit in jams and jellies and the leaves can be used as a pot herb. I have never tried the leaves but I am curious. Wondering if they taste like grass or are as tasteless as the fruit… I did mention that, right?
As I mentioned, the plants look like strawberries and they have similar characteristics. Plants have a crown, similar to strawberries, with rhizomatous (secondary) roots below it. I am not sure if they divide like strawberries… Potentilla indica produces hairy stolons (also called runners), similar to strawberries, which root at the nodes. This allows them to form fairly large colonies. Some people like to use these plants as groundcover.
The crown produces rosettes of leaves on long petioles (leaf stems). The petioles have antrorse hairs that lay fairly flat. The trifoliate leaves are broadly ovate, the margins bluntly toothed (crenate) with forward-facing teeth (serrate). The leaves are somewhat hairy, especially on their veins, with antrorse hairs. There are stipules (small appendages) at the base of the leaf petioles.
Single flowers emerge on long pedicels (flower stalks) from leaf axils and the crown. The flowers have 5 yellow petals surrounded by 5 sepals and five bractlets. The sepals and bractlets make up what is known as a calyx and grow alternate of each other… The 5 green bractlets are kind of broadly ovate and have 3 lobes or teeth (whichever you prefer), and arch downward (more so at fruiting). The 5 green sepals are ovate-triangular and arch somewhat upward. Both are somewhat hairy (pubescent) and they grow alternate one another.
The 5 yellow petals are somewhat narrowly ovate. Flowers have 15-25 stamens (male parts) with yellow anthers that surround the “receptacle”. The receptacle is in the center which is covered with an abundance of pistols (the female parts) each with 1 style. I think the ovary is inside the receptacle… Anyway, the ovaries have 1 locule and 1 ovule.
The blooming period for Potentilla indica is from April through June.
The above photo shows the sepals and bractlets.
When the flowers are pollinated, the fertilized ovaries form separate, small, dry fruits.
What we think of as the fruit of a strawberry is actually an accessory fruit with lots or achenes on its surface. The achene is actually a type of simple dry fruit with a seed inside.
SO, the receptacle, which is yellow during flowering, becomes the red accessory fruit. The achenes are the fruit… Inside the dry ovary wall of each achene is the seed (ovule).
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky
Some of the websites listed below use the scientific name Potentilla indica and some use Duchesnea indica. This means some sites may not have updated since the name change (one way or the other). It is most likely the correct scientific name is going to turn out to be Potentilla indica. You know, many websites and databases put information online and that’s it. Even after many years and name changes, they don’t update and you can’t contact them. A few sites below have links for the genus Potentilla and the species Duchesnea indica. Well, I am hoping they get the memo and update.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF MISSOURI (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY-BURKE HERBARIUM
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
EAT THE WEEDS
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂