En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 26, 2009

From: Woburn, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Why are Virginia strawberries native to Massachusetts?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Thank you for your answer regarding Virginia wild strawberries. I thought they were only native to Virginia and that Virginia fragaria duchesne is the accepted name for them. Why do strawberries of New Hampshire and Massachusetts have the term Virginia? Do they still grow there and were they introduced from Virginia? Duchesne are very flavorful but others are not? I contacted Massachusetts native society but still need to contact University of Massachusetts. Did you know there is a Fraises des bois museum in France? The site is in French but very interesting. I am buying regina fragaria vesca.


That's a very good question. This article on How Plants are Named from Sterling Morton Library at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL gives you some background on where the scientific names come from, as well as trade names and cultivars. What we refer to as the "common name" is where it can get confusing. The same plant can have different common names in two neighboring towns, or clear around the world. We're betting that the scenario here is that a botanist or plant hunter, visiting and writing about plants of North America, spotted a plant that looked like a strawberry plant to him while he was visiting Virginia. So, he called it a Virginia strawberry. Then, later, he might have been in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, seen a similar plant and said, "Oh, wow, lookie there, another Virginia strawberry."  Since he probably wrote a diary or published letters about his find, that became a common name for a plant which just happens to also be native to 49 other states, Washington DC and including Virginia, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. At some point it was assigned a scientific or Latin name so that people everywhere could refer to the same plant, in this case, Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry), and in our Native Plant Database the word "Duchesne" is attached to it. That may have been the name of the plant hunter, we just don't know. Plant nurseries sometimes dream up fancy names for plants they have for sale, or descriptive terms, which may even be trademarked. Sometimes the plants are hybridized and no longer are the same plant with the same Latin name as the original. But your original question had to do with Virginia wild strawberries growing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and yes, they do, as well as Virginia and all those other states.


More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Horse herb available by seed?
September 25, 2007 - I live in Hays County in Texas, and I would like to plant horse herb on a slope that is now covered with a variety of tall grasses. Is horse herb available in seed form? If so, how may I order some? S...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower Seed Collection Along Public Road in Blue Ridge, North Carolina
September 21, 2010 - I live in North Carolina and would like to plant native wildflowers on a steep bank in my yard. I live on a rural dirt road and most of the plants I want grow wild on the side of the road. Can I leg...
view the full question and answer

Looking for Sideroxylon celastrinum (Coma saffron plum) seeds or seedlings
February 12, 2015 - Hi. I'm trying to find a good commercial source for la coma (Bumelia celastrina) seedlings/seeds. Can you help? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native and exotic plants in New Oxford PA
October 24, 2010 - Is there a palm tree that would grow in New Oxford PA? Also do you know where I could find a place to buy Exotic and Unusual Plant Seeds from around the World. I would like one that has a good reputa...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Painted Lady
May 10, 2009 - Where can I buy plants for the painted lady butterfly larvae in Houston?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center