strawberry looking weed

What Weeds Look Like Strawberry Plants?

An inexperienced gardener can become excited at the appearance of what looks like strawberry plants in the garden. Unfortunately, those “berries” might actually be weeds with a similar appearance. Not only will you get no berries, some of these weeds are actually invasive. A careful examination will soon identify the intruders.

  • Intro
  • The Shape of a Strawberry
  • The Most Common Weeds
  • Recognizing Weeds
  • Why to Eliminate These Weeds
  • How to Eliminate Weeds

The Shape of a Strawberry

Before you can identify weeds, you must know what the real thing looks like. Strawberries are perennial plants that grow in USDA Zone 3 to 11. They have basal leaves (leaves at the bottom only) composed of three leaflets to one stem. The edges are serrated. Flowers are usually white, with five to eight petals and an ivory to cream center. The fruits are easily recognizable – red and heart-shaped, with small surface seeds. The plants spread by offshoots called runners.

The Most Common Weeds

Weeds that can look like strawberries may be members of the same family or completely unrelated. Here are the once you’re most likely to see in your garden:

  • Cinquefoils, also known as the barren strawberry; inedible fruits.
  • Wild Strawberries; edible fruits but not very sweet or palatable.
  • Mock Strawberries; bland to bitter fruits.
  • Wood Strawberries; invasive but sometimes used as a groundcover.

Recognizing Weeds

Cinquefoils can be the hardest to recognize as they are very similar in appearance. However, their fruits are often rounded rather than heart-shaped. Wild strawberries have much smaller fruits than garden strawberries. True strawberries have white or pink flowers, while wild strawberry plants produce yellow flowers. Sometimes the only way to make an identification is to let them develop fruit.

Why to Eliminate These Weeds

While some people use these plants as groundcovers, most people prefer to avoid them in favor of other choices. These weeds are typically invasive – especially the mock and wood strawberries. They can easily take over a flower or garden bed by throwing out runners that root and quickly form new plants. They will also grow readily in lawns. Fragile plants can’t withstand them, although they may be all right in a shrubbery bed.

How to Eliminate Weeds

There are really only two ways to get rid of these weeds once they show up. The first is to sterilize the soil by covering it with heavy clear plastic. Pin or weight down and let the sunlight bake the plants for a week or more. Rake well, removing all debris to prevent regrowth. The second is to pull them up by hand, one plant at a time. Burn the debris. If you compost it, you may have the weeds in the compost pile.

Did you know that some weeds can mimic the appearance of strawberry plants? A few are even invasive and you won't want them in your garden. Read for more.

Plants That Look Like Strawberries

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The garden strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a familiar sight in home gardens and pick-your-own farms throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 10, although they do best as annuals in USDA zones 9 and 10.

If you’re walking in a field or forest, however, you may spot some common lookalikes. Some plants resembling strawberries are actually relatives of the cultivated fruit, while others just happen to bear such a striking resemblance that they carry “strawberry” in their common names. Some just have leaves that resemble the strawberry’s, while some bear fruit as well, but all have those distinctive leaves and just might tempt you to bend down and rummage around for some sweet strawberries to snack on.

Cinquefoil With Strawberry-Like Leaves

Some members of the cinquefoil family closely resemble garden strawberries. Their flowers are yellow rather than white, however, and they bear no fruit. Strawberry weed, or Norwegian cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica), can be found in most parts of the U.S. and Canada. The wild plant has the characteristic round-toothed, three-part (trifoliate) leaves of garden strawberries, according to UMass Extension. It grows between 1 and 3 feet in height, and like common cinquefoil, produces yellow flowers. Common cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex) is generally distributed only in eastern parts of the U.S. Its leaves are in five parts, compared with the three of the garden strawberry.

Mock Strawberry Differs Only in Flowers

Mock strawberries (Duchesnea indica syn. Fragaria indica) resemble cultivated and wild strawberries in everything but their flowers, which are yellow instead of white, reports University of Maryland Extension. Like strawberries, mock strawberries spread by runners and have the characteristic toothed, trifoliate leaves of actual strawberry plants. They even bear red, seeded fruit. These fruits are not poisonous, but they are quite bland. Mock strawberries are found in wild areas but are also cultivated as ground cover in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9.

Wood Strawberry, Also Called California Strawberry

The wood strawberry (Fragaria vesca), also called the California strawberry, is a relative of the common strawberry. Like garden strawberries, wood strawberries have trifoliate leaves that are toothed, reports the USDA. The flowers are white, sometimes with yellow centers. As a cultivated ground cover, wood strawberries grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. Some cultivars may bear good-tasting fruit, but the wild versions are not prized for their taste. While not officially invasive in California, the ground cover can be a nuisance unless you keep its runners pruned.

Plants That Look Like Strawberries. The garden strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a familiar sight in home gardens and pick-your-own farms throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 10 — though they do best as annuals in USDA zones 9 and 10. If you’re walking in a field or forest, … ]]>