Sex Life of Strawberries



For strawberries, the notion of separate sexes never really gained much of a foothold…largely due to their lack of feet. While many fruits engage the assistance of insects to help them transport their pollen, the clever strawberry chose a reproductive tactic at once more sedentary and ambitious. It chose to evolve itself into a hermaphrodite in order to stay home and self-pollinate.

By making this bold lifestyle choice the strawberry also channeled the energy it would have spent on pollen production into the development of its sweet taste and pleasant aroma. Somehow, the strawberry understood that these qualities would inspire avid strawberry enthusiasts to not just transport its pollen, but actively propagate strawberry progeny far and wide.

While the strawberry’s reproductive strategy worked perfectly, the sweet smell of success did come with one bitter note of irony. It turns out modern agriculture is not nearly as dedicated to the idea of diversity as the strawberry itself. Where once there were dozens of strawberry varieties flourishing in farms and greenhouses across America, today almost the entire U.S. strawberry crop consists of only one species: the “Pineapple Strawberry”, or Fragaria ananassa.  

And yet there still remain undiscovered strawberry varieties in the wild. As recently as 2012, a brand new wild strawberry species was discovered fruiting in the high peaks of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. As the new strawberry species is endemic to the Western Cascades it was dubbed Fragaria cascadensis.