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Waldsteinia fragarioides (Michx.) Tratt.

Photo: Waldsteinia fragarioides

Barren-strawberry

Habitat: Woods, thickets, and clearings. [Old field/roadside (non-forested, wetland or upland)]

Range: Central Maine west to Minnesota, south to uplands of Georgia and west to Tennessee, and sporadically to Missouri.

Aids to Identification: The barren-strawberry is very similar in habit and appearance to wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), having toothed, trifoliate leaves, a perennial rootstock, and propagating by runner-like stems called stolons. The fruits and flowers, however, are distinctive: Waldsteinia has bright yellow petals with numerous long stamens, and the few seeds (2-10) are borne on a dry, inedible fruit.

Ecological characteristics: All of the known stations in Maine are on roadsides where they appear to be thriving despite the disturbance caused by road grading.

Phenology: Flowers May to June.

Family: Rosaceae

Synonyms: Maine populations are represented by ssp. fragarioides.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 4 town(s) in the following county(ies): Kennebec, Penobscot

Dates of documented observations are: 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001 (2)

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: Typical of the understory in northern forests in some other parts of North America. All of the known Maine populations are along roadsides bordered by woods. Some road maintenance is obviously compatible with the species, but populations could be vulnerable to road-widening or extensive shoulder work.