Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Surprise

Aren't these wild strawberries, I wondered?

They were all over my mother in law's suburban New York City backyard.   I thought I had hit a culinary jackpot. Visions of desserts featuring wild strawberries danced through my head. I had also seen them last year, but didn't have time to investigate them.  But this time, looking for some pictures to take, they were a natural subject.

It had been so many years since I had been able to taste wild strawberries.  Wild strawberries are tiny (perhaps the size of a pencil eraser, if that) but pack as much flavor in one tiny berry as in a huge commercial strawberry.  They are a pain to pick (especially if you have a bad back, which I do), but so worth it.

"Look at these!" I motioned to my spouse.  I was so positive these were wild strawberries that I forgot the first rule about wild food.  Don't taste wild food unless you know for sure what the food is.

He tasted one.

"These have no taste!" he exclaimed.  So, I tasted one.

No taste.

The berries looked like strawberries.  The leaves looked like strawberries.  Did I luck into a field of....tasteless strawberries?

One quick email to a friend's sister later, I had my answer.  Potentilla indica, also known as Indian strawberry.

They are a native of Asia.  They were imported here, intended as an ornamental.  In some areas of our country, they are now considered invasive.

Fortunately, these don't appear to be poisonous, and my spouse and I are both still here.  But, my dreams of wild strawberry shortcake are on indefinite hold.

Sometimes, things just aren't as they appear.  What looks desirable turns out to be - tasteless.

A nice life lesson.

Have you ever been fooled by something that looked like something desirable, but turned out to be something different?


  1. We call them "mock strawberries" here and they grow throughout our lawn. I had never bothered to look up their origin and history. Interesting. I'd never tried tasting them and I guess I won't now!

  2. Yikes, you tasted it?!? I'm so paranoid I wouldn't try anything until I was sure it was safe.

  3. WOW you are lucky they didn't have poison or something. ...i could imagine the shock awful look on your face when you tasted them...

  4. It took me several years to get rid of these in one of the flower beds. Even now, many years later I will see a plant pop-up.

  5. How interesting. Things don't always turn out the way hope. Such is life.

    Personally, I rely on my instinct/intuition and the natural connectedness of all when it comes to trying things out in Nature. I suppose that's how the people in the old days did it.


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