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The Sweetest Strawberry Is Here!!!


AKA: Fragaria ananassa, L. Family: Rosacea, Genus: fragaria; Strawberry, Garden Strawberry


Propagation/Description: There are approximately 250 different varieties of strawberry worldwide due to cross development but there are 3 general types currently known. June-bearing, everbearing and day-neutral. June-bearing produces larger berries and are harvested over a 3–4-week period in or around June. This is the most common garden variety. Everbearing are not “ever bearing” but generally have 2 harvest seasons of spring and late summer or early fall. Day-neutral, unlike June-Bearing, will give smaller fruit but produce a good yield the first year when the temps are steady between 35F and 85F and can produce fruit all the way into October. Strawberry plants reproduce through stolons or “runners.” Runners extend out several inches from the crown, take root in the soil, and produce new plants called “daughter plants.” Growing strawberry plants from a runner is, for most, the easiest and quickest way to propagate strawberries. Strawberry leaves have three blades per leaf, on long stems. Leaves are dormant from late fall to mid-spring. The roots are generally shallow and occupy the top 6 inches of soil except in very sandy soils, where they can reach down to 12 inches.

Folklore/History: The Roman poets Virgil and Ovid did mention the strawberry way back in the first century A.D., but they referenced it as an ornamental, not as a food. Wild strawberries have been eaten by people around the world since ancient times. The delicate heart-shaped berry has always connoted purity, passion, and healing. It has been used in stories, literature, and paintings through the ages. In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, who are passionately fond of strawberries, will help to produce healthy calves and an abundance of milk in return. Some legends have it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other. To symbolize perfection and righteousness, medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals. It was the French who first accidentally pollinated the Chilean strawberry with the Virginia strawberry when pistillate Chilean plants were inter-planted with staminate Virginian plants and natural hybrids were made. The English did most of the early breeding work to develop the ancestors of the varieties we enjoy today. All modern strawberry varieties have descended from this crossing of Virginia and Chilean strawberries in the 1700’s. The first documented botanical illustration of a strawberry plant appeared as a figure in Herbaries in 1454.

Medicinal: The Greeks and Romans believed that the strawberry could cure melancholy, depression, fevers, inflammation, kidney stones, gout, and throat and mouth infections, as well as a host of other diseases of the blood, liver, and spleen. It has now been shown to help with stomach problems such as diarrhea and dysentery, sore throats, as a diuretic to increase urine flow, assist with joint pain such as arthritis and gout. It is an anti-inflammatory, and astringent. They contain a complex series of phytochemicals that can be divided into six main groups: anthocyanins, flavonols, flavanols, ellagitannins, ellagic acid glycosides, and cinnamic acid conjugates which have significant health benefits and have been studied for their anti-cancer, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, and antiviral activities, as well as their ability to regulate blood glucose. They also contain a significant amount of proanthocyanidins, a flavanol compound that recently has gained more attention and scientific study. Another human study with young, healthy volunteers consuming 500 g of strawberries daily for one month showed a reduction in triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.

Spiritual: The delicate heart-shaped berry has always connoted purity, passion, and healing. Strawberries for Cherokee are a symbol of peace and good luck. More modern times it is believed to cause and represent pleasure/enjoyment, love, fertility, healing, banishment of bad energy and purification and is associated with the sacral chakra and therefore used in workings and rituals for personal growth and development.

Summary: I think for most people strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) is a wonderful past time and favorite. This information is eye opening because I never really considered the medicinal or spiritual aspects of the strawberry before. Nutritional, yes, but not any further than that. Strawberries are so much more than a delectable summer treat! It is healthy, healing and uplifting in so many ways. I encourage you to incorporate them into your daily diet unless you are allergic of course. It can and does help in your holistic and spiritual journey. Keeping it in your diet and in your practice is truly vital and can make a significant difference in your life. So go out and enjoy some strawberries today… tomorrow…. EVERY DAY!!!!


Bibliography:

Hedgewich’s Field Guide by Siolo Thompson, pgs. 150-153

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham, pg. 236

The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies, The Healing Power of Plant Medicine by Nicole Apelian, Ph.D & Claude Davis; pgs. 207-208

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments by Andrew Chavallier, FNIMH; pg 213


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