Have you ever been out and about and noticed a plant that looks like a strawberry? Luckily there aren’t too many plants that can easily be confused with strawberries, but there are a few. Especially if you consider that there are different varieties of strawberries and some of them could be also considered a “weed“.
In this article, we will take a look at the two strawberries found in the wild and how to tell them apart from their gracious garden cousins. And of course, I will also show you the infamous weed that looks like strawberry – Cinquefoils.
Let’s start with all things strawberries.
What do different strawberry plants look like
When buying strawberries at the store, you might not even know that there are different types of strawberry plants. The big strawberry fruits that we’re the most familiar with come from the garden strawberry plant (Fragaria x ananassa). These are the ones that you’ll most likely see in your local grocery store.
However, there are actually many different types of strawberry plants, and each one produces a slightly different type of fruit. Two common types of strawberry plants that you might spot in the wild or in your backyard are wild strawberry and mock strawberry.
These will be the two types of strawberries that we will focus on in this article, as they are the most likely to be confused with one another or with weeds that look like strawberry plants.
garden strawberry plant
The garden strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) is the most common type of strawberry plant grown in gardens. The plants are usually runners that produce small, white flowers and grow to about 4 – 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) in height. The fruits of this plant are what we typically think of when we think of strawberries – red, fleshy. The plant’s leaves are toothed and have a fuzzy surface.
Garden strawberry plants are generally easier to grow than wild strawberry plants. They are also more productive, producing larger fruits.
Wild strawberry plant
The wild strawberry plant is very similar in appearance to the garden strawberry plant. However, there are some key differences that can easily help you to distinguish between the two.
The main difference is in the size of the leaves. Wild strawberry plants have much smaller leaves than garden strawberry plants. The leaves of a wild strawberry plant are also more triangular in shape, while the leaves of a garden strawberry plant are more oval.
Another difference is in the fruit. Wild strawberries are much smaller than garden strawberries and have slightly different flavors. They are also more difficult to find as they don’t grow in neat rows like garden strawberries.
As you can tell by the name, the wild strawberry is more likely to be found in the wild than the garden strawberry. It’s not as common to plant them in gardens because they don’t produce as much fruit as the garden strawberry.
If we define a “weed” as a plant that is growing where it’s not wanted, then these wild strawberries can be considered just weeds that look like strawberries. However, if you would ask me, I would still gladly take a basket full of these wild strawberries over a basket of garden strawberries any day. Especially knowing how laboursome it is to find them.
mock strawberry plant
The mock strawberry plant (Duchesnea indica), sometimes called Indian strawberry, is a common weed that looks like a strawberry. It is a member of the rose family and can be found in gardens, lawns, and other areas where strawberries are grown. Mock strawberries are still related to strawberries, but they are not the same plant.
The mock strawberry plant is a low-growing ground cover that only reaches about 4 inches (10 cm) in height. It has white flowers and produces small, red fruits. The leaves of the mock strawberry plant are deeply lobed and have a toothed margin.
Mock strawberries grow in a similar environment as wild strawberries, so they are often found in the same areas. However, mock strawberries are not as palatable as wild strawberries and are generally considered to be an invasive weed. It’s not easy to tell them apart, especially based just on the leaves, but mock strawberry fruits have bumpier surfaces than wild strawberry fruits. Fruits from both plants are perfectly fine to eat, though mock strawberries are not as sweet as wild strawberries.
Weeds that look like strawberries
Depending on whether you consider wild and mock strawberries to be weeds or not, there is just one more plant that looks like strawberries and is often mistaken for them – Cinquefoils.
I’ve never heard or seen of any other weed that looks like a strawberry and my thorough research has confirmed that cinquefoils are the only other plant that comes close to looking like strawberries. This makes your job much easier if you’re trying to identify a plant as a strawberry or not. However, I’m always open to being wrong so feel free to comment below if you know of any other weeds that look like strawberries. 🙂
Cinquefoils (Potentilla spp.) are a genus of flowering plants in the rose family. Yes, it’s the same family as strawberries which is not that surprising when you see how similar they look. Cinquefoils can be found in the wild, but they are also commonly planted in gardens as ornamental plants.
There are many different species of cinquefoil, but they all share some common features. They have lobed leaves and yellow flowers. The flowers are usually five-petaled, hence the name cinquefoil which means “five leaves” in Latin.
Cinquefoils also have a fruit, however, it doesn’t have any resemblance to a strawberry. The fruits of cinquefoils are dry, brown, and winged.
The most notable difference between cinquefoils and strawberries is their height. Cinquefoils can grow to be quite tall, up to 5 ft (1.5 m), whereas strawberries grow only up to 6 inches (15 cm)
Another difference is that cinquefoils have much deeper lobes on their leaves than strawberries. Cinquefoils also have hairy stems whereas strawberry stems are smooth. And finally, if you happen to see them when blooming, cinquefoils have yellow flowers while strawberries have white flowers.
So there you have it, a list of three plants that look like strawberries – wild strawberries, mock strawberries, and cinquefoils. All three of these plants are related to strawberries but can be considered just as weeds that look like strawberry plants depending on your perspective.
I hope this article was helpful in identifying these plants and that you now have a better understanding of the difference between them. Thanks for reading.