Synonyms: Other names: Virginia strawberry Nomenclature: virginiana = of Virginia Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
General: perennial, 3-15 cm tall, from often reddish-tinged stolons and short, scaly rhizomes, weakly to strongly hairy with flat to spreading hairs along the stolons and stalks.
Leaves: basal, divided into 3 leaflets, on stalks up to 15 cm long. Leaflets obovate to wedge-shaped, mostly 2-7 cm long, rather thick, hairless and usually with bluish cast on the upper surface, sparsely to abundantly silky-hairy on the lower surface, coarsely sharp-toothed, end tooth narrower and shorter than the adjacent teeth. Stalk of the terminal leaflet 2-7 mm long.
Flowers: white with 5 broad petals, 6-13 mm long, 2-15 in open clusters. Calyx sparsely to copiously silky-hairy, the bracteoles 4-7 mm long, narrower and shorter than the lanceolate-elliptic, pointed, 5-8 mm long sepals.
Fruits: red, fleshy, about 1 cm broad, the achenes about 1.5 mm long, partially sunken (up to 3/4 of their thickness) in shallow pits in the receptacle.
Open woods to sandy or gravelly meadows and stream banks in the plains and lower mountains in w., c. and se. parts of MT. Also from AK to CA, CO and GA.
The fruits - wild strawberries - are edible raw, cooked or made into preserves. They are sweet, succulent, and delicious. The fruits can also be dried for future use. The dried leaves are a very pleasant tea substitute and are rich in vitamin C.
The whole plant is antiseptic and has agents that cause tissue to contract, that promote or assist the flow of menstrual fluid and secretion of milk, that treat toothache and other problems of the teeth and gums. It has been used to regulate the menstrual cycle. A tea made from the leaves has been used as a nerve tonic and is slightly astringent. A poultice made from the dried powdered leaves mixed with oil has been used to treat open sores. A tea made from the roots induces urination. It has been used in the treatment of diarrhea, irregular menses, gonorrhea, stomach and lung ailments. The Cherokee took it for disease of kidneys and bladder or for visceral obstructions, and used it for treatment of jaundice and scurvy. The Okanagan-Colville Indians used leaf powder applied to any open sore as a disinfectant.
The fruits were used as a tooth cleaner by the Cherokee among others. They are held in the mouth, or rubbed over the teeth, to remove tartar.