Fragaria vesca is a small herbaceous perennial wild strawberry in the Rosaceae family that grows throughout most of the Northern hemisphere in a variety of forest communities, often in conifer forests. The plants are low lying, growing ovate trifoliate leaves that have pinnate-arcuate veins and serrate margins. The flowers bloom in the summer, with 5 delicate white petals surrounding a central yellow cluster of the pistils and stamens that mature into scarlet red fruits. These fruits, although called berries, are not true berries. The fleshy and edible part of the aggregate accessory fruit is a receptacle, and the parts that are sometimes mistakenly called “seeds” are achenes. Although it typically propagates through it’s runners, it’s seeds are viable. It can tolerate a range of moisture levels, but tends to do poorly with extremely moist or dry soils, and does well when mulched. The leaves are a popular browse for elk, deer, and a variety of small mammals and birds.
The alkaline leaves are cooling, sweet, and astringent, and make a calming tea as well as a toner for oily skin. They act to neutralize excess stomach acid and their alterative and diuretic qualities benefit the kidneys and urinary tract and ease bloating due to water retention, especially when caused by PMS. High in trace minerals, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and iron, they boost milk production for nursing mothers and can help to bring on delayed periods. Studies have shown the high levels of anti-oxidants in strawberry leaves have cancer-fighting potential as well as being vasodilators, lowering blood pressure. The leaves can also be added to baths for aching hips and thighs, and the root is useful for treating diarrhea and urinary tract disorders.
Traditionally, wild strawberry has been used in liqueurs, deserts, and preserves worldwide. It’s also been used by herbalists to treat anemia, diabetes, rheumatic gout, kidney stones and liver complaints, and to cool fevers. Its used to whiten teeth and remove tartar, soothe sunburn, and lighten freckles. The tea is also said to firm up soft gums, tightening loose teeth.
1-2 tablespoons of the leaf infused into a cup of water taken three times daily, or 1-3ml of the tincture taken three times daily.
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