New Strawberry Species Found in Oregon

Posted on July 19, 2013

Fragaria cascadensis


The USDA reports that a new species of wild strawberry has been discovered in Oregon. U.S. Agricultural Research Service scientist Kim Hummer found the new species during plant collection expeditions in the high peaks of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. She named it the Cascade strawberry (Fragaria cascadensis).

The new species is perennial, with white flowers and green leaves. The USDA says it grows at elevations at about 3,000 to 5,000 feet in sandy-clay loam soil of volcanic origin located in forest clearings and open alpine meadows.

Hummer says, "The new strawberry species begins growing after snowmelt in late May or early June and flowers in early July. Runner production begins after flowering, and fruit ripens during August for about 2 weeks. The fruits of plants at about 5,000 feet elevation ripen 1 to 2 weeks later than those at 3,280 feet."

Hummer also says, "Fragaria cascadensis presents the possibility for developing and breeding a new class of cultivated strawberries. This wild Oregon strawberry, if crossed with the commercial strawberry, would likely result in hybrid offspring with lower fertility. However, crossing this new species with other strawberries having the same number of chromosomes, such as the cultivated F. vescana or the wild Russian species F. iturupensis, should produce fertile offspring, which may reveal new flavors or genetic disease resistance. In the future, consumers could benefit from the knowledge gained and genes provided by this new wild strawberry."

The discovery of the Cascade strawberry was first reported in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Photo: Kim Hummer