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Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

Strawberry Facts

Strawberry History

Strawberries, which are thought to have been cultivated in ancient Rome, were originally grown in Europe. Today, however, varieties also can be grown throughout Chile, Russia, and the United States.

The first known American species of strawberries was cultivated about 1835. The berries seem to be strewn among the leaves of the plant, and they were first called strewberries in the late 18th century.

Later, the name was changed to strawberry—possibly from the practice of English children threading the berries on pieces of straw for sale or from the 19th century practice of laying straw around the strawberry plants to protect them from bad weather. Other stories noted that farmers would bring the strawberries to market on beds of straw to protect them during traveling.

Alpine strawberries are believed to have medicinal uses. While the leaves, roots, and fruits were used as a skin tonic, the berries were eaten to relieve diarrhea and an upset stomach. Leaves and roots were also eaten for gout. In addition, a paste made from the strawberries was used to treat sunburn and skin blemishes, and the fruit's juices would be used to whiten teeth.

Horticultural Facts

The strawberry is a small plant of the Rosaceae (Rose) family. All varieties of strawberry plant belong to the Fragariagenus.

Strawberries are not really berries or fruit, but they are the enlarged ends of the plants stamen. The small black spots are actually the fruit.

Strawberries can be grown wild or as a cultivated plant. Strawberry plants have an average of 200 seeds on the outside skin of each berry—unlike most fruit in which the seeds are enclosed within the fruit.

Interestingly, strawberries do not normally reproduce by seeds. Strawberry plants send out what are called runners, which growson the ground and sends roots into the soil. The roots then produce new plants that are often used to start new strawberry plots.

Strawberries are hand-picked, sorted, and packed in the field. The flats or trays of strawberries are rushed to shipping houses where they are kept at a temperature of 34 F. Each flat or tray contains 12 one-pint baskets.

Within 24 hours of being picked, strawberries are loaded on refrigerated trucks for delivery to local markets across the country.

Did you know more than 94% of all households consume strawberries? According to the USDA, each person consumes about 4.85 pounds of fresh and frozen strawberries yearly. 

Measurement Equivalents

*Adapted from North American Strawberry Growers Assoc. Booklet, Fresh Strawberries

  • 1 quart (1 L) weighs about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds (675 to 750 g) and will yield 4-5 servings
  • 8 quarts (8 L) weighs about 12 pounds (approx. 5 kg) and equals 13 pints frozen
  • 1 ½ quarts (6 cups, 1.5 L) is needed for a 9" (22.5 cm) pie
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sliced fresh berries is equivalent to one 10 oz. (284 g) package of frozen, sweetened berries

Nutritional Information  

Strawberries are low in calories and have great nutritional value making them a perfectly healthy snack—just eight strawberries provide as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice.


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Strawberry Folklore  

  • In provincial France, strawberries were regarded as the highest-quality aphrodisiac. Traditionally, newlyweds were served a soup of thinned sour cream, strawberries, borage (a European herb whose flavor is reminiscent of cucumber), and powdered sugar.
  • The second wife of Henry the VIII, Queen Anne Boelyn (1507-36), had a strawberry-shaped birthmark on her neck. Unfortunately, some claimed this fact proved she was a witch.
  • The strawberry is recognized as representing absolute perfection in the Victorian language of flowers.
  • Medieval stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals, symbolizing perfection and righteousness. During the same time period, strawberries were served at important state occasions and festivals to ensure peace and prosperity.
  • Sacred to the both Goddess of Love and the Virgin Mary, strawberries boast a long, dramatic history.
  • Have you ever eaten a double strawberry? Legend holds that if you break it in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, then you will soon fall in love with each other.

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