And one more entry written by Taisha this week, who scribes:
Fragaria chiloensis, commonly known as the beach or coastal strawberry, was featured on Botany Photo of the Day late last year (Fragaria chiloensis and Lupinus littoralis). Daniel’s photo in that entry shows plants growing en masse. Today’s close-up photograph of a plant was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by Sandy Steinman@Flickr. He took this photo in mid-March near Abbott’s Lagoon at Point Reyes National Seashore of California. Thanks for sharing, Sandy!
Like yesterday’s Amelanchier, Fragaria chiloensis is a member of the rose family or Rosaceae. Species of Fragaria are distributed globally and vary in ploidy from diploid (two sets of chromosomes) to decaploid (ten!). Fragaria chiloensis is an octoploid. As mentioned in the previous entry, the beach strawberry is distributed along the western coast of North America with disjunct populations in Chile, Argentina, and Hawai’i. It’s speculated that migrating birds carried the seeds from North America to the South American sites.
Once established on the coast of Chile, it seems the species was brought into cultivation by indigenous peoples of the area and transported regionally. Near the Bío Bío River, the Picunche to the north and Mapuche to the south cultivated the beach strawberry over 1000 years ago as a garden crop. The fruits were eaten fresh, dried, prepared as medicine, or made into juice and fermented. Over time, two distinct cultivated types stood out, a large white selection and an improved red form.
When the Spaniards invaded western South America, they considered the strawberries a bounty of conquest. Strawberry germplasm moved with the Spaniards north to Cuzco, Perú, and Ecuador. During the colonial period, strawberries began to be produced on a larger scale. Eventually, the beach strawberry was introduced to Europe in 1712, where it was extensively cultivated. The cultivated strawberry Fragaria x ananassa apparently originated from an accidental cross between the white-fruited version of Fragaria chiloensis subsp. chiloensis f. chiloensis and the meadow strawberry, Fragaria virginiana subsp. virginiana. By the 1950s, this hybrid overtook much of the traditional Fragaria chiloensis production. Despite Fragaria x ananassa‘s popularity, Fragaria chiloensis is still grown on a smaller scale throughout Ecuador and Chile. The species remains a source of germplasm for modern breeding programs (see: Finn, C.E. (2013). The Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis): Over 1000 years of domestication (PDF). HortScience. 48(4):418-421).