it has been proven that under exact conditions these seeds will, indeed,
sprout and grow, the plant, for some reason, seems to have rejected
this as the main way of propagation. Thus, the plant could be said to
have 'strewn' runners and plants all over. So the name probably derived
from the Anglo-Saxon verb for 'strew'(meaning to spread around) which
was streabergen(Strea means 'strew' and Bergen for berry or fruit) and
thence to streberie, straiberie, strauberie, straubery, strauberry,
and finally, 'strawberry', the word which we use today.
Strawberries have been around for
a long time. They were known to exist in Italy as far back as 234 BC.
The Greeks, who had a taboo against eating anything red, including strawberries,
also knew them. Wild strawberries abounded in ancient Rome and are mentioned
in the writings of Virgil, Ovid, and Pliny the Elder. History indicates
the first known cultivation of these berries began sometime in the Middle
Ages. However, strawberries grow nearly everywhere in the world and
it is known that the American Indians were cultivating them as early
as the 1600s and probably before. The Indians used them for making bread,
beverages, and in soup. It has been said that it was from a Native-American
concoction of strawberries, cornmeal and ground acorn nuts that early
settlers got the idea of making strawberry shortcake.
The strawberry of early times, and
often portrayed in the Gothic Art of the middle ages is the wild, or
woods, strawberry. The Romans, Europeans, and the Indians considered
strawberries medicinal and, yet, during the middle ages and later times,
pregnant women avoided the little berry for fear that eating or touching
one would cause their children to be born with strawberry shaped birthmarks.
Many Indian tribes, the best known
being the Iroquois, transplanted the little plants from the woods and
cultivated them in beds. Making them, along with corn, one of the earliest
American wild strawberries, Fragaria
virginiana, are somewhat larger than their wild European cousins, known
as Alpine berries. Strawberries, when ripe, generally come in a lively
color of red, but there are also a yellowish and a white variety. Wild
strawberries are small and tend to set fruit only once during a season,
that of summer, usually during the month of June. The wild strawberry
had long been cultivated in Europe, and by the Indians, but the large
fruited berry we know and love today originated in Europe in the 18th
In the 1600s the larger American
Wild Strawberry was sent to France for crossbreeding with the European
It happened that a French spy, named
Captain Amede Frezier, was observing Spanish strongholds on the west
coast of South America when he discovered the giant-fruited Chilean
wild strawberry, fragaria chiloensis, that South American Indians had
been cultivating as long as their history could be remembered. Captain
Frezier gathered a few of these plants and brought them back to France.
He was not believed when he said the fruit of these plants were the
size of large walnuts and he also could not prove it because, unfortunately,
all of the plants he had brought with him were female. In order to get
them to produce fruit, they were deliberately crossed with the American
Wild Strawberry and the end result was the large strawberry, Fragaria
ananassa, also called the Pineapple Strawberry. Today, the French word
for Strawberry is 'Fraiser' in honor of the Captain.
But an English horticulturist, Thomas
Andrew Knight, became the first person to practice large-scale, controlled
and systematic strawberry breeding and his work led to the large, delicious
berries we know today. Commercial strawberry growing flourished in the
1800s in America and the earliest famous grower and breeder of this
continent was Charles M. Covey of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a nurseryman
and publisher of a horticultural magazine. He was the first American
to produce a strawberry cross. In 1851, a New Yorker by the name of
James Wilson produced a strawberry variety that caused commercial production
to jump from a few hundred acres to over 100,000 acres within 20 to
30 years! Today Strawberries are the most popular and most sold and
cultivated berry in the country and are grown in every state of the
union. Wild strawberries produce their fruits only in June/July. Today,
commercially produced strawberries come in two types: those known as
'June Bearers' and those known as 'Everbearing', and the names are rather
self-explanatory. Everbearing plants bear from early spring throughout
the entire growing season while the June Bearers, like their wild ancestors,
set fruit only in the summer month of June or, sometimes, July. Most
winter and spring crops come from Florida and the Gulf and southeastern
states, but 80% of all strawberries are grown in California, a production
of about 1 billion pounds per year, or an average of about 21 tons of
strawberries per acre! top of page
Some strawberry facts that
you may or may not wish to know:
Strawberries are the only known
fruit to have their seeds on the outside, with an average of 200 seeds
British Royalty loved strawberries.
Princess Mary, King Henry VIII's daughter, loved them so much that a
basketful was always presented to her when she visited.
American Indians were already cultivating
and eating strawberries when the colonists arrived. The crushed berries
were mixed with cornmeal and made into bread. After trying this bread,
colonists developed their own version, which we today know as strawberry
The word 'strawberry' did not exist
in this spelling until 1538.
The Strawberry was a symbol for
the goddess Venus because of its color and its unique heart shape.
At one time, the French people considered
the strawberry to be an aphrodisiac and traditionally served a strawberry
soup to newlyweds.
Ann Boleyn, second wife of Henry
VIII, had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck.
The Romans thought strawberries
medicinal while the Greeks declared them 'taboo.'
To symbolize perfection and righteousness,
medieval stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and around
pillars in churches and cathedrals. In modern cemeteries, you can see
this influence on tombstones.
Besides runners, the distribution
of wild strawberries is aided by being sown by birds. When the little
dudes eat the berries, the seeds pass through intact.
Under the right conditions, strawberry
seeds will germinate and grow and they seem to respond more to light
conditions than to moisture and need no dirt cover to grow.
The strawberry, besides being as
red as a rose, is actually a member of the rose family.
Strawberries, because of their red
color and heart shape, have always been associated in some way with
romance. One legend says that if you break a double strawberry in half
and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love
with each other. Another version of the same legend does not specify
'double', any strawberries will do.
By weight, strawberries contain
more vitamin C than oranges.
1-1/2 pounds = 2 pints or 1 quart
1 small basket = 1 pint
1 pint = 3 1/2 cups whole berries
1 pint = 2 1/2 cups sliced berries
1 pint = 1 2/3 cups pureed berries
1 cup = about 4 ounces