Strawberries are different plants that we like for their berries. In biology, strawberries form a genus with many different species. We know best the large garden strawberry and the small wild strawberry. But there are many others. Many different varieties of the garden strawberry have been bred.
Humans have been eating strawberries since the Bronze Age. But those were wild strawberries. It has only been cultivated in gardens since the Middle Ages. People not only needed them for food, they also found them beautiful and believed that they could heal illnesses with them.
Hundreds of varieties have been bred today. In Europe, the fruits are rather soft, and in North America sometimes almost as hard as an apple. First of all, they are much larger than in nature.
Farmers have come up with tricks to make strawberries grow later or earlier than normal. That’s why you can buy strawberries almost all year round. But many of them come from a different, southern country.
What are strawberries for biologists?
Strictly speaking, the strawberries are not fruits, but “pseudo-fruits”. They look like fruit, but scientists don’t see them as real fruit. A fruit would come from an ovary, which is a specific part of a flower.
With the strawberry, the red, fleshy part comes from the base of the flower. The little yellow things on the strawberry are actually nuts. They come from the ovary. That is why the strawberry is an aggregate fruit.
Strawberries belong to the rose family. The plants do not form wood, but only herbs. That’s why they grow on the ground and not up. They reproduce by offshoots. So they form shoots that reach a little way from the mother plant and take root there. You can dig them up and move them to another location.