Strawberry Begonia, Strawberry Geranium,
Creeping Saxifrage, Creeping Rockfoil,
Aaron’s Beard, Roving Sailor, Etc.
Saxifraga stolonifera Curtis is the correct and accepted name for the Strawberry Begonia. It was named and described by William Curtis in Philosophical Transactions in 1774.
The genus, Saxifraga Tourn. ex L., was named and described first by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort then later by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Plants of the World Online list 237 accepted species in the Saxifraga genus. The genus is a member of the Saxifragaceae family with includes 34 accepted genera.
Mr. Tournefort is often credited as being the first to make a clear distinction between genus and species although that idea had been used as early as the 16th century.
My good friend and fellow plant collector, Walley Morse of Greenville, Mississippi gave me this Strawberry Begonia in the spring of 2012. I put it in the bed behind the den under one of the Crape Myrtle trees.
Where this plant is hardy, it makes a nice evergreen groundcover spreading by runners like a strawberry. They should be planted in part to full shade. This is another plant that some call Mother of Thousands
After I sold the mansion in Leland, Mississippi, dad asked me to move back to the family farm in mid-Missouri. So, in February 2013, MANY plants and I made the move, including the Strawberry Begonia. I did have to give up around 200 pots…
The Saxifraga stolonifera produces white flowers on stems up to 18” tall in the late spring through early summer. The flowers are really interesting if you look up close with three small upper petals and two larger lower petals. Some photos online show pinkish upset petals with maroon spots. I guess I didn’t look that close or I would have taken my own close-ups…
Origin: Native to parts of China, Japan, and Korea
Zones: USDA Zones (6b) 7a-10b (0 to 35° F)
Size: 6-8” tall or more
Light: Light to full shade
Soil: Well-drained soil a little on the moist side.
Water: Needs regular watering
The Saxifraga stolonifera is not 100% winter hardy in our zone here in mid-Missouri so I was bringing it inside for the winter and keeping it in the basement where it did just fine.
The leaves rise from the rosette forming plant on long stems up to 8” in length. The leaves, resembling a strawberry or some species of Begonias, are a nice dark green with silver veins. The undersides of the leaves are maroon. More light will enhance the leaf color but to much sun will cause their leaves to burn.
The Strawberry Begonia, or whatever you choose to call them, make fairly good houseplants. Information online says to avoid getting water on their leaves as with other “hairy-leaved” plants to reduce the risk of fungal disorders. Hmmm… Well, I guess their leaves do have tiny hairs, although not near as hairy as some such as the Tradescantia sillamontana. That’s what I think of when you say hairy leaves.
These plants are very easy to propagate from the plantlets growing on the runners. Just remove them and put them in their own pots or here and there in your flower beds. Just like strawberries or Spider Plants. You can leave the runner on the plant and just stick them in the pot they are dangling from then remove the runner once its own roots develop.
They spread fairly rapidly, so if you grow them in pots, they may need a larger one every spring.
Information online also suggests they don’t like heat and high humidity. Well, that’s strange because they did very well in Mississippi which I would say is hot and humid.
In the cooler areas of their preferred zones, you may want to put a little mulch around them. That is also a good idea just about anywhere as a good mulch of leaves or other material will help keep their soil cool(er) and moist.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)