Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Plants that ducks will not eat
May 12, 2009 - I own a lot of ducks and see a lot of people asking what kind of plants will they "NOT" eat... I know of some through experience.. Anything with shiny leave.. They don't touch my English ivy, rose...
view the full question and answer

Purchase of medicinal plants
August 14, 2007 - Hi. I am looking to buy some medicinal plants. One of them is Galium and the other is Thymus serpillum. Please advise me of where I can find them. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your hel...
view the full question and answer

Obtaining native plants in the Austin area from Schertz TX
November 06, 2011 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I went to the plant sale this past weekend, I had a good time, there was a great selection of plants. I was there at 9:00AM Sat. and when I asked for some plants than I have on ...
view the full question and answer

Search for non-native Rosa Rugosa for Granbury TX
November 12, 2012 - I would like to find an old fashioned Rosa Rugosa (non-hybrid) to grow in central Texas. I know I've seen them occasionally when traveling in the central TX area. I want them for their rose hips. ...
view the full question and answer

Sources for native trees in New Braunfels TX
November 28, 2010 - I live just north of New Braunfels in the Hill Country. I would like to plant the following trees this December: Anacacho Orchid Tree, American Smoke Tree, Golden Leadball Tree, and perhaps a Laceba...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.