Perennial, usually winter-green, low, clonal by runners, stems from a small rhizome.
Leaves alternate, and basal, 3-parted, margins toothed, teeth blunter than above, terminal tooth shorter than lateral ones, early spring leaves adapted to high light conditions, summer leaves of forest plants adapted to shade, late summer overwintering leaves adapted to freezing, shade adapted leaves of forest plants have longer life spans than those in open areas (Chabot and Hicks 1982).
Flowers white, petals 5, 0.7-1 cm long, below leaves, blooms May.
Fruit appearing fleshy ca 0.1 cm wide, red, with 1-seeded achenes embedded in surface of enlarged, fleshy floral base (receptacle); seed load 4%. Pulp nutrients: water 92%, lipid 1%, protein 1%, CHO 92% (White 1989); fruits June-July.
Fruit eaten by songbirds, pheasants, crows, and mammals, foliage eaten by rabbits, deer and other herbivores (Martin et al. 1951).
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Habitat: Mostly in low vegetation, fields or open woods, in good soil, somewhat shade tolerant at forest edges.
Notes: Cultivated strawberry, F. x ananassa, a European hybrid between F. virginiana and F. chiloensis (apparently native to the Pacific coast of S. America and N. America) has fruit larger than 1.5 cm wide and petals 1-1.5 cm long.