Barren Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis)

Barren Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis)

Barren Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis) is a plant in the cinquefoil genus (Potentilla) of the rose family (Rosaceae).
It is distinguishable from a wild or woodland strawberry, or a garden variety, by being a smaller plant, with smaller flowers. Otherwise it looks very much like a strawberry, or a wild strawberry, but it doesn't form fleshy fruit, so after the petals have fallen from a flower no obvious fruit forms. Also often the petals don't touch, but the five white petals are usually obviously distinct.
Barren Strawberry has five white petals which are separated to show the green sepals behind.
The leaves are dull, hairy and tri-foliate with serrated edges. The tooth at the end of the leaf is shorter than the other teeth, giving the leaf a more rounded appearance.
As its name suggests, the Barren Strawberry does not have the edible fruits of other strawberries. It is found in woodland and scrub.
The Barren Strawberry is very similar to the Wild Strawberry. However, the petals and leaves of the Wild Strawberry are larger and the petals touch each other. The leaves of the Wild Strawberry are bright and glossy.
The Barren Strawberry is more fond of the open than the Wild Strawberry. It is a common roadside flower growing amongst the sward at the side of the macadam. It is also to be found in woods, where it forms wide patches. Banks are again a favourite habitat of this pretty wild flower. By the wayside its white flowers contrast with the yellow blooms of the Silverweed, which, however, flowers later as a general rule.

This little gem of a flower is, as its former second Latin name, fragariastrum, implies, like the strawberry in habit, that is to say, dwarf, trailing, or prostrate, rising at the tip, with numerous brownish thick stems, which bear many inversely egg-shaped leaflets, in threes, coarsely-toothed, and softly downy on the sides. From the Wild Strawberry this plant differs in having no erect flower-stalks, and it has generally smaller flowers, with distant (not overlapping) petals, which are not notched as in the latter.
The calyx is as long as the corolla, and the achenes are hairy on the scar, and wrinkled transversely. The receptacle is not, as in the Wild Strawberry, fleshy.
The Barren Strawberry is not more than 6 in. in height. It is in flower in March up to May. It is perennial, and reproduced by achenes, which are numerous.
It is an early-flowering plant, with many flowers, which are white but inconspicuous. It is consequently not much visited by insects, and is probably in the majority of cases self-pollinated. The honey is secreted as a thin layer, and not in drops as in Fragaria, with which otherwise it largely agrees. The anthers and stigma are ripe at the same time.
The fruit consists of a group of achenes, which are dispersed when dry by falling away from the disk, and partly by the wind.
Barren Strawberry is a sand-loving plant, and addicted to a sand soil, flourishing also on barren stony ground, derived from granite or older harder siliceous rock soils.
Two fungi are liable to be found on the Barren Strawberry, Septoria fragarice and Phragmidium fragariastri.
A beetle, Galeruca tenella, frequents it, and a moth, Nepticula arcuata.
Potentilla, Brunfels, is from the Latin potens, powerful, in allusion to its powerful astringent nature, and the second Latin name refers to its barren nature.
This plant is called Barren Strawberry, Strawberry Plant.

Colour:    White
Flowering:  Feb - May
Height:  Up to 6" (15 cm)
Family:  Rosaceae
 


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