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Waldsteinia fragarioides (Michx.) Tratt.

Barren strawberry

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderRosalesRose family and eight others
FamilyRosaceaeIncludes apples, apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, almonds, roses, meadowsweets, photinias, firethorns, rowans, and hawthorns; many others
GenusWaldsteiniaHonors Count Franz Adam von Waldstein-Wartenberg (1759-1823), Austrian botanist and writer
SpeciesfragarioidesResembling strawberry (Fragaria)

About plant names...

Barren strawberries are North American natives, named for their apparent lack of fruit. (They do in fact fruit, but the seeds are inconspicuous and dry.) They are not strawberries at all, though they are related. The genus Waldsteinia is named for the German botanist Francis Adams, the Count of Waldstein-Wartenburg. The species, fragarioides, means strawberry-like, for the close resemblance of the foliage.

Identification: Barren strawberries are 3-8″ (7.6-20 cm) tall. Leaves are near the base of the plant, and three-lobed, like strawberries, with rounded teeth and shallow lobes. Each leaflet is narrow at the base, widening to rounded ends. Flowers are yellow, on a leafless stalk, with five rounded petals, about ¼″ (8.3 mm) around, in clusters.

Barren strawberries most closely resemble mock strawberries, since they both have yellow flowers. Here are a few strawberries and strawberry relatives:


Waldsteinia fragarioides (barren strawberry)

4/8/2021 · Long Reach Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 6 × 4″ (15 × 10 cm)

Waldsteinia fragarioides (barren strawberry)

9/24/2010 · Nissitissit River Wildlife Management Area, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 9 × 6″ (23 × 15 cm) ID is uncertain

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Waldsteinia fragarioides

Duchesnea indica

Fragaria ‘Red Ruby’
Common Name

barren strawberry

mock strawberry

ornamental strawberry
Plant 3-8″ (7.6-20 cm) high Plants are 2-5″ (5-12 cm) high. About 5″ (12 cm) high and 1-2′ (30-60 cm) around.
Flowers Yellow, on a leafless stalk, with five petals, ¼-¾″ (8.4-19 mm) around, blooms April-May. Flowers are yellow, with five petals, about ½-¾″ (1.3-1.9 cm) in diameter. They flower from April to August. Deep pink, about ¼-¾″ (8.3-19 mm) in diameter, with five petals.
Leaves Near the base of the plant, three-lobed, with rounded teeth and shallow lobes. Each leaflet is narrow at the base, widening to rounded ends. Leaves are in groups of three, dark green, heavily veined beneath, with rounded teeth. They are oval to elliptic, ¾-3″ (1.9-7.6 cm) × ¼-1½″ (8.5-38 mm), and hairy. Dark green, in groups of three, glossy.
Fruit Dry, inconspicuous seeds. Red berries are ¼-½″ (6.3-12 mm) in diameter, more spherical than strawberry-like in shape. The seedlike achenes on the berry are prominently raised, making the fruit resemble a tiny land mine. Occasionally produces fruit.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 5-8
Habitats Pine forests, clearings   Sun to light shade; well-drained soil
Type Wild Wild Cultivar


Fragaria vesca

Fragaria virginiana
Common Name

alpine strawberry

common strawberry
Plant Plants are low-growing, typically 3-6″ (7.6-15 cm) tall. 2-4″ (5-10 cm) high.
Flowers Flowers are white, about ½″ (1.5 cm) across. White flowers with yellow centers, about ½″ (1.3 cm) around. Flowers remain at the level of the leaves.
Leaves Leaves occur in groups of three; each leaflet is ½-2½″ (1.5-6.3 cm) long. Leaf stalks up to 6″ (15 cm) long bear groups of three leaves. Each leaf is oval in shape, with a serrated edge, about ¾-1½″ (1.9-3.8 cm) long.
Fruit Up to ⅜″ (1 cm) across. Red or white in color. Berries are red, about ½″ (1.3 cm) in diameter. Seeds are embedded in the berry. Sepals point outward.
Range/ Zones

Habitats   Fields, prairies, woodland edges
Type Wild Wild


Online References:

The Missouri Botanical Garden


Waldsteinia fragarioides (barren strawberry)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 15 × 10″ (39 × 26 cm)

Geum fragarioides (Michx.) Smedmark


Waldsteinia fragarioides description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.

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Waldsteinia fragarioides (barren strawberry)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 12 × 8″ (31 × 20 cm)

Waldsteinia fragarioides (barren strawberry)

8/16/2020 · Long Reach Preserve, Harpswell, Maine · ≈ 10 × 6″ (24 × 16 cm)


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