Following the evolution of 3 gardens in Quebec throughout the seasons and the learnings of its respective gardeners. We will steer their evolution through different principles : Permaculture, Polyculture and Sustainability to the best of our abilities.
One Sunday afternoon in September, during my visits to some friends, an intrigue arose like this.
"Come look at this, Helene, maybe you know what plant this is. I say it's a strawberry, my wife says it's not."
Moments later, on a shadowed corner of the yard, there's this huge dark green carpet of low plants on which perfect, flashy red pearls are lying on. After a look at their leaves, grouped in threes just like strawberry leaves, I answer assuredly : "Yeah, this looks like a kind of strawberry!" And then, the taste test. One berry, two, three. Huh. They taste almost nothing, something like faint strawberry water mixed with a dash of watermelon. Crunchy because of all those seeds covering the fruit. I'm still pretty sure it's a kind of strawberry, however one that unfortunately, doesn't tastes much.
After a bit of research, however, the fruit's story appears : It's called Potentilla Indica, previously classed Duschesnea Indica, aka Mock Strawberry (Fraisier des Indes, or Faux Fraisier in French; Falsa Fresa or Fresa India, in Spanish).The flowers are yellow instead of white or pinkish, an element that distinguishes Potentilla Indica easily from your normal strawberries (Fragaria), but not being in springtime, I couldn't rely on this clue.
Mock strawberry is an agressive plant. Here, the lawn can't keep it at bay.
In its English version, Wikipedia states that it comes from eastern and southern Asia, and in the French version, it says it comes from Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea and China. Wherever it comes from, it grows really well here, in Canada.
September's herbal tea.
Even if, to me, the taste seemed bland at first, it is probably due to me expecting the strong taste of strawberries. Otherwise, this plant as many advantages : First off - to my eyes - the plant as great value as an agressive but really lovely groundcover, speckled with bright red, perfectly round beads. It could probably be used with some measure of success in some part of the yard deemed difficult. Second, an herbal tea can be made out of the leaves. The taste is quite pronounced and pleasant but would most likely be enhanced by adding another plant like raspberry leaves (to my palate at least). I think the berries, besides being eaten as is, could be agreably mixed to a lemonade without changing the taste much but adding a nice pink coloring.
The most interesting thing about this plant however, is that it is a berry that's abundant in September, a month where - besides groundcherries - there is very little variety in the family of berries !