Alpine Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Alpine strawberries come in red, white, and yellow!
Alpine strawberries come in red, white, and yellow!

CROP DESCRIPTION:

Alpine strawberry is the wild strawberry indigenous to Europe. The non-spreading plants produce produce small 1″ berries that pack a flavor punch. Alpine strawberries are sometimes referred to as gourmet strawberries because of their intense aroma and complex flavor. Unlike the garden strawberry (Fragaria X ananassa), alpines grow 1-2′ tall and wide and are well tamed lending themselves as the perfect plant for edges and borders. Alpine strawberries are easy to grow and don’t require any special needs besides good garden soil. The clumping plants form multiple crowns in a cluster and should be divided every few years to maintain vigor. They’re readily propagated by seed so long as the seed is exposed to light and pressed into the soil ever so gently. Alpine strawberries flower and fruit for a long period during the spring, summer, and fall providing a continual harvest of fresh berries.

CROP HISTORY & BREEDING POTENTIAL:

Alpine strawberries have been eaten from the wild for hundreds if not thousands of years. Historically they’ve been widely cultivated as a garden crop throughout Europe. Around the 18th century they started falling into obscurity as garden strawberries gained popularity. In the early 1900’s ‘Rugen’ was developed in Germany as one of the first named varieties. ‘Alexandria’ is a commonly available American variety that was introduced in 1964 by Park Seed. Supposed hybrids have been created crossing F. vesca with F. X ananassa (1).

Flavor variation is rather subtle amongst cultivars, however productivity and berry size do vary quite a bit.
Flavor variation is rather subtle amongst cultivars, however productivity and berry size do vary quite a bit.

CULTIVARS:

Over the years I’ve grown at least a dozen different varieties in my garden. Thanks to Michael Wellik of The Strawberry Store for making some of the more rare varieties available. Personally I find the yellow fruited varieties far superior to the reds in terms of flavor. There is also anecdotal evidence that birds recognize yellow fruit as unripe and therefore don’t eat it. The most proven varieties thus far in terms of flavor and productivity have been ‘Pineapple Crush’ and ‘Yellow Wonder’. Current varieties in my trials are:

Yellow Wonder
Pineapple Crush
Ali Baba
Migonette
Red Wonder
Reine Des Vallees
Alexandria
'White Soul' is one of the many yellow fruited cultivars.
‘White Soul’ is one of the many yellow fruited cultivars.

Stay posted for further notes and evaluations in the coming season. Visit the Link/Resources page to find nursery sources for alpine strawberry plants and seeds.

REFERENCES:

1.”Fragaria Vesca.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

2. Wellik, Michael. “Alpine Strawberries.” The Strawberry Store. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

3. Reich, Lee, and Lee Reich. Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden. Portland: Timber, 2004. Print.

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