Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fragaria - Strawberries

Various common names for Fragaria vesca: wild strawberries - the common, European, field or native strawberry. This is just a variegated version which grows on several sunny banks in our gardens. I doesn't always bloom and doesn't always set fruit (which we leave for the critters since I have my own strawberry patch in my vegatable garden) but with the variegated leaves, it is quite a nice addition to the plantings. I kind of just wanders about, as strawberries have a tendency to do, rooting at the ends of the stolons as it goes. Little plants are easy to transplant once their root systems are established.
An infusion of the leaves or roots (1 ounce of dried material to 1 pint of boiling water) is said to be a mild astringent and diuretic, valuable especially for diarrhea in children and for disorders of the urinary organs. Contrariwise, the fruit eaten in quantity is likely to have a mildly laxative action. For some (like my father and I) it causes allergic reaction such as digestive disturbances or a skin rash.
Grieve's Herbal recommends strawberries as a dentifrice and cosmetic. The juice of the fresh fruit is retained for a few minutes on the teeth which are then cleaned with warm water containing a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Cosmetically, a cut strawberry rubbed over the face after washing will whiten the skin and remove a slight sunburn.
I finally decided that I needed to find out just who this 'Grieve' was who wrote the herbal that my herb book quotes so frequently. Rather than my writing all about her (yes it is a her) just follow this link to read her story.
Back tomorrow with some tiny, early irises.

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