Few things are more exciting to a green thumb than strolling about outside and discovering a native fruit-producing plant growing wild. I’ve had several such occurrences in just the last few years. I was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop a while back when I noticed a mulberry tree laden with dark, almost black fruit tempting me with its heavy branch hanging over my head and almost brushing my hair on a sidewalk in the middle of a suburban setting. I guess no one ever thought to cut down the tree growing near the runoff drain, but I harvested as many fresh mulberries as I could before I had to leave the area. I’ve often stumbled into wild blackberry thickets in my wanderings, and just last year I discovered four wild American persimmon trees not a mile from my dwelling place.
While blackberries are generally loved and known by everyone, mulberries are less known, and knowledge of persimmons is confined to a fairly small group within the general population. Strawberries, however, are the A-List celebrities of the fruit world. Virtually everyone loves them. So, many people who find what they believe to be wild strawberries in their yard often ask me, “Why aren’t my wild strawberries with yellow flowers producing any strawberries?!” Well, here’s why:
Strawberries with Yellow Flowers … Aren’t.
Strawberries simply do not have yellow flowers. Wild strawberries and most of the strawberry varieties available from nurseries all have white flowers. A few of the F1 hybrids have pink or reddish blossoms, but none have yellow flowers. Maybe genetic engineering will see some purpose in turning a strawberry plant into a strawberry-like variant with yellow petals, but nature signifies something else by putting the canary color on its buds. Namely, that you aren’t looking at a strawberry at all. Rather, you are beholding a somewhat invasive weed that is native to eastern and southern Asia.
So, What Are “Strawberry Plants” with Yellow Flowers?
The weeds that appear to be strawberries with yellow flowers are a close cousin of the strawberry. Coming from the same family, Rosacae, it is of a different Genus: Potentilla. The most commonly encountered trickster in the United States is Potentilla indica. Its appearance is very similar to the familiar garden strawberry with dark green trifoliate leaves, and crowns that produce runner plants (stolons) similar in appearance to those of the Fragaria genus. They often survive winter and invade their territory on a perennial basis as well. Due to these traits, they can easily be mistaken for true strawberries, and often are. The resemblances have given rise to a number of names for the weed. They are most commonly called mock strawberries or false strawberries, Gubir or Indian strawberries, or, as I called them as a child, snake berries.
The Yellow Flower Strawberries Are Edible
The fruit from Potentilla indica are actually edible. They aren’t poisonous, but they aren’t exactly enjoyable to eat either. They are gritty, mealy, and either bland or bitter. The achenes (they contain the seeds) that cover the outer surface of the fruit also detract from the consumption experience, if the taste itself wasn’t enough. So, unless curiosity gets the better of you, there is no need to ever bite into the unpleasant fruits. They are edible, but who would want to eat them?!
Strawberry Plants with Yellow Flowers: Conclusion
If you stumble across some plants in your back yard that appear similar to strawberry plants this spring, watch them carefully. While strawberry plants do grow wild in the United States and most of the rest of the temperate world, they are typically much harder to find than the non-native false strawberry weed. If you think you have some delightful wild strawberries growing near you, just observe them until their flowers bloom. If they are white, you are in for a treat! If they are yellow, feel no remorse in introducing the plants to an untimely demise…
I have some bare ground at 8,000 feet elevation. Very dry and windy. Would this invasive but beautiful plant thrive in these conditions
Hi, Thanks for the info. Two years ago, I bought a hybrid, “pineapple strawberries.” The orst summer, I managed to get to one of the berries and they were delicious. Every other berry was eaten by animals and so I thought that was the end of it. Last summer, I found several growings around my flower bed and assumed they were seeds dropped by the animals who ate them. I put some in a container and they began to bear fruit. Once again, the critters got to them before I did! So, here we go again. More came up this spring and I have done the same, except this time, I covered them up and there are already several growing. After reading your article, am I to assume that these are not from the ones I purchased and instead they are weeds? I am very disappointed if this is the case. What do you think?
Thanks for settling a debate between me and my husband!! I knew they weren’t real strawberries!! It is definitely almost impossible to tell until they start to flower. They’re SO invasive!
I believe I have both growing in my yard. Can they cross breed? I really don’t want yucky strawberries.
Melanie B Urban
I have a couple different strawberries in my patch. I did find & mix in some wild strawberries. It seems to me, the yellow false strawberry seeds come in with real strawberry plants. There’s another difference, between them. Real strawberry plants have their stems from the crown (just above the soil). False strawberry plants have stems growing from an upward central stem. Yes, I let them grow, the 2nd year, just to see. Anyway, I pull them up by the root, before they flower (no seeds spread). I initially read this thread, because apparently, I now have a mulberry….seedling in my strawberry patch. Glad I didn’t pull it out. Thank you, birds! There’s a mulberry tree on my block.
I’ve pulled up the fake strawberries for years and they still come back. This year I decided to put some in hanging baskets. They are so pretty and I get endless comments on them. They’ll probably not come back since I’ve made use for them. 🙂
Hi, I’m from England, and so pleased to identify what I think is a very pretty plant growing on the top of a water butt – yellow flowers, bright red berries and leaves turning red and orange in autumn. Many thanks! Iris
I have these growing throughout my yard but especially at the base of my grape and blackberry plants. These “weeds” get a lot of run off water and the berries grow to the size of wild strawberries (w/ yellow flowers), but they taste GREAT. The large ones taste just like watermelon, and even smell slightly like them.
Just an FYI
Can u help me about rainbow strawberrys via differential color ,is it true?
They sale seeds on amazon and eBay.
See here. Good luck!
Thank you so much for your help. I’ve just searched the web and haven’t been able to find anything about a ‘strawberry plant’ with yellow flowers. I found one growing in my garden in Victoria, Australia and thought it was indigenous. We have heaps of strawberry plants and I was going to give one to my aunt. 😉
No problem! Just don’t give that yellow-flowered “strawberry” to your aunt as she might not like its invasive nature!!! Good luck!
Hi! I bought some organic strawberries this spring and took out some seeds and planted them. 3 came up but shortly 2 died now I have 1 beautiful tall “strawberry” with yellow flowers. What the heck? The soil I used was fresh potting soil and wasn’t contained with other plants. How do you explain this phenomenon?
I bought 2 strawberry plants.one is normal with White flowers and red fruit,the other has formed pink flowers with strange looking fruit growing from them. The leaves are normal. is this a strawberry??
The pink-flowered plants are hybridized strawberries. Not a true-species strawberry, but they still produce edible strawberries. Good luck!
clint gentleman farmer
Thanks for the great advise, I had the yellow flowered imposter hiding among my strawberry plants. Until I read your posts, thanks!
Is there a sure way to distinguish the false from the real before bloom? It’s driving me crazy. The false do seem to have smaller leaves I think.
Yes, you can train your eye to identify the false ones, but sometimes you might get it wrong. The most surefire way is to wait for the flowers. Good luck!
Hi. I’m from Wisconsin, USA and bought 4″everbearing” strawberry plants last year from our local farmers’ market. I planted them in a very large pot on my deck. They were the trailing variety and my 1 year old grandson excitedly pointed out each ripened strawberry and proceeded to gobble them down. I was under the impression they were perennials. Wasn’t sure though if they’d live through the winter potted outside though. Thought 2 out of the 4 came back but their flowers are YELLOW. I had went out and replaced the 2 dead ones mistakenly with 2 Cabot plants. I thought they too, were everbearing. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF A WEED INVADING A POT OF STRAWBERRIES THAT I PLANTED LAST YEAR? I too am wondering if the plant can actually mutate or morph into the wild weed. I have no other “pseudo strawberries” on my property. Thanks for listening.
Unfortunately, if the plants in your pot have yellow flowers, they are most certainly weeds. Sometimes weed seeds can come in with the plants that are purchased already potted. That is probably what happened with yours. I’m sorry!
I live in WI too and had that happen to me. I bought organic strawberry plants from Menards and gew them in a hanging basket and by gosh I had starwberries well into October. But anyways I hung them near and above another wide container planter. This spring in the corner of this wide container planter, was fresh greens looming to be strawberry leaves. I had thought perhaps seeds dropped in it from the hanging bush above last year. So I let it grow and I hot yellow flowers too! I had read that starting strawberries from seed takes 2 yrs to bear fruit. Could this be a reason for the yellow flowers?? I live in a small rural city there are no wild strawberries around. I think we both have a wild phenomenon going on here. Such a bummer.
It is very common for hanging baskets to have the imitation strawberry plant weeds latent in the soil and then spring back to life/germinate with warmer weather. Unfortunately, that is probably what happened. Good luck!
Help! My plant has been growing strawberries for the last couple of years and this year all the sudden I have yellow flowers in the place of my white ones. Did my plant get invaded?
Unfortunately, it appears so. I’m sorry!
Are these yellow-flowered mock berries frequently crossbred with other strawberry varietals to produce hybrids? Mine also *magically* appeared in my regular strawberry patch. Good to know the leaves have medicinal purposes.
No, they will not normally crossbreed with regular strawberry plants. They are of a different genus.
I live in Italy and have discovered these yellow flowered strawberry like plants on the bank where I had planted real strawberries several years ago – fragola di bosco – which are the wild variety but store bought. What is odd is that they only seem to have appeared here and nowhere else in the garden which suggests the real strawberries have morphed into the weed variety or that somehow they know where to go with less chance of being detected.
Thanks for the information! They surely didn’t morph, but the habitats for both are the same. It is also possible that seeds for the yellow-flowered kinds were hidden in the plants you bought. Either way, good luck!
We live in a very remote rural site in nz…after a couple of years of good crops are strawberries have morphed into these plants with the strawberry beds covered in these plants….we are a long way from any other gardens and checking around no one else has mock strawberries… Do ignored strawberries turnturn – I’m intrigued by these yellow flowered monsters…(tho they do keep the birds away from my tomatoes)..
I’d recommend rooting every last one of those yellow-flowered plants up. They will continue to spread and take over everything! Good luck!
thank you so much for this post Mr Strawberry!I live in Auckland, NZ and have wild strawberries growing in the yard and didn’t know how to tell the difference between the shop bought ones. I actually considered them a weed as the fruit was bland but never observed the colour of the flower. this blog has helped me so much and I’m now going to see whether I’ve got any real wild strawberries!
I’m glad it helped! Good luck!
What should I look for if I want to plant wild strawberries on my property that produce the small, intensely sweet berries I remember from my childhood?
Wild strawberries in the U.S.A. are usually F. virginiana or F. vesca. Good luck!
Ummm…My strawberry plants from last year have yellow flowers this year and are not producing fruit….
I’m sorry, but it sounds as if your strawberries have been overrun by a weed! True strawberries simply do not have yellow flowers. I am very sorry!
My dog eats the yellow false stew array leaves when her stomach is upset. Works like a charm.
Glad to hear that they are good for something!
My whole strawberry patch is smaller leaf plants and yellow blooms
You probably have a weed patch and not a strawberry patch, unfortunately. Good luck getting it ironed out!
To me the strawberries are sweet and delicious. I love them. I call them Wild Strawberries.
Take a picture and send it my way. The yellow-flowered faux strawberries produce mealy, bland berries. If yours taste good, you probably discovered an actual wild strawberry patch.
Hi, I am from Indonesia…
I have bought strawberry seeds by online shoping, the seller say that it is black strawberry.
Then, when the plant begins to have flower, it yields yellow flowers. And the fruit is not black but red, small too. The shape is like the picture above but I think mine is smaller.
Do you think I have been cheated?
Unfortunately, yes. To my knowledge, there are no black strawberries. There are plenty of sites on the internet that sport photoshopped pictures of black strawberries, but they are just that: photoshopped. There are plenty of people willing to sell seeds for “black” strawberries, but they are either scam artists themselves, or have been taking in by some such unsavory character. If the seeds you bought produce strawberry-looking plants with yellow flowers (as described on this page), you’ve been sold seeds to an invasive weed. Don’t plant anymore of them! The darkest strawberries in existence as of now are purple. Good luck!
Hey can you see if black strawberries are real or not?
At this time, there are no naturally black strawberries grown anywhere. The closest thing that isn’t dyed or photoshopped is the Purple Wonder strawberry.
I used to live a few blocks away from two mulberry trees and would be there to harvest as many as I could before the birds got to them. Sadly both trees were cut down because the owners “can’t stand the berry stains on the sidewalk and driveway!” Very sad because they make a great jam.