Fragaria vesca

Fragaria vesca

Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca L., 1753) is a herbaceous plant, spontaneous in the Italian undergrowth, of the family of rosaceae.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Rosales Order, Rosaceae Family and therefore to the Fragaria Genus and to the F. vesca Species.

Etymology –
The term Fragaria comes from strawberry frágum, probably derived from fragrant fragrans, in turn coming from the Sanskrit “ghra” whose meaning is always fragance. According to others The specific epithet vesca derives from véscor eating, grazing: as edible; according to others from the meaning of springs of the term vesca in Latin.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Wild strawberry is a typical plant of the undergrowth, of the sparse woods and the escarpments. It grows practically all over Europe. In Italy it is present in all the regions both in the plains and in the mountains up to the limit of the vegetation.

Description –
Fragaria vesca is characterized by the leaves gathered at the base in small tufts; these are trifoglie and serrate. The flowers are small white with 4 – 6 petals with flowering that can go, depending on altitude and latitude, from March to July. In some years the plants bloom again in the fall. The fruit, which in reality is a false fruit, supports the real fruits (achenes) which are the seeds of which we see the surface scattered.

Cultivation –
Fragaria vesca is grown for its fruits that have a very intense aroma. This species is distinguished from the hybrid varieties cultivated to have the small and soft fruit (from which the name vesca derives in the meaning of springs in Latin). This plant prefers a fresh, rather acid soil and a sunny or half-shade exposure. It reproduces by vegetative vegetative way. The fruits of this species are found after about 8 months from the plant and are difficult to preserve and, therefore, must be consumed or processed quickly. For the hybrid strawberries cultivation technique, see the following sheet. It can however be cultivated in a semi-spontaneous way even if for cultivation normally selected varieties are preferred, more resistant to artificial cultivation and more productive.

Uses and Traditions –
The Fragaria vesca was already used and consumed as early as 10,000 years ago and the first historical evidence of strawberries collection dates back to the Neolithic age. In Italy the diffusion of the first plants dates back to 234 BC. This fruit is also mentioned in the Bible for its delicacy and its beneficial properties. The fruit then goes on, as a delicacy, in the banquets of the Roman period. It is said that the tears of the goddess Venus fallen on the earth after her death have turned into red hearts giving rise to these fruits. We must wait for the fourteenth century AD for the first crops and since the eighteenth century began intensive cultivation proper. Until then they were often considered for their decorative appearance.
In the Middle Ages, even the dried leaves of strawberries, intertwined and gathered in appropriate cords, if worn as belts, were considered useful as a protective remedy against snake bites. Wayfarers resting outdoors for this purpose protected the beds by surrounding them with strawberry leaves.
From this moment on, the consumption of strawberries change from those harvested in the wood to those mainly cultivated. Current wild strawberries have evolved over the millennia from the wild species. Wild strawberry can have countless uses. As a medicinal herb it can be used to alleviate gastrointestinal disorders.
The pulp of its crushed fruits is applied with masks aimed at clearing strongly pigmented and melamine epidermal areas. Other uses are: astringent intestinal, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, diuretic, antigout, refreshing and therefore particularly recommended in the treatment of diarrhea, skin and mucosa reddened, hematuria, jaundice.
The active ingredients contained in Fragaria vesca are: essential oils, glucosides, flavonoids, tannins, mucilage and flavone. It also contains good percentages of vitamin C, iodine, iron, calcium and phosphorus and potassium salts, as well as salicylic acid.

Preparation Mode –
The fruit of wild strawberry is consumed since time immemorial both raw and cooked; it is used for the preparation of fruit salads and jams, often accompanied by ice cream; moreover, with the infusion of leaves it is possible to produce a very pleasant drink with an intense flavor and aroma.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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