The fruits of mock strawberry look a lot more delicious than they actually are. Descriptions of the fruit’s edibility range from insipid to mildly poisonous, so it looks like I’ll have to keep comforting myself with cream sans berries (though the raspberries and blueberries are now ripening locally). Like the strawberry, the fruits of Duchesnea indica are technically not berries. They are instead accessory fruits. In accessory fruits, the flesh of the object is not derived from the ovary, but from some adjacent tissue exterior to the carpel. The true fruits of the mock strawberry are achenes, which are the hard seed-like objects found on the surface of the accessory fruit (inside the achene, and perhaps inseparable from the achene in this case, is the seed). The red fleshy accessory fruit develops from the swelling hypanthium, a cup-like structure at the base of each flower which expands after pollination.
Other parts of the mock strawberry bear similarly-striking resemblances to species of Fragaria, e.g., the leaf margins. Both genera also share commonalities with Potentilla. The yellow, five-petaled flower and divided, alternate leaves resemble Potentilla. All three taxa share a creeping, stoloniferous growth form. Recent phylogenetic studies suggest a reordering of these groups (see: Potentilla and Fragaria (Rosaceae) reunited (PDF) and The Phylogeny of Rosoideae (Rosaceae) Based on Sequences of the Internal Transcribed Spaces (ITS) of Nuclear Ribosomal DNA and the TRNL/F Region of Chloroplast DNA(PDF)). These papers suggest that both Fragaria and Duchesnea are nested within Potentilla, i.e., that strawberries and mock-strawberries should be considered as being part of Potentilla. Some organizations and people recognize this relationship by using a synonym for today’s species, Potentilla indica.