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WIDNAU. It looks confusingly similar to the wild strawberry, but with the main difference that its fruits only serve as an ornament. The Indian pseudo strawberry (Duchesna indica) has already fooled many with its bright fruits.
Sometimes one wonders what kind of plant is growing in the garden again. They have not been planted or sown and they are not known as weeds. This is what happened to Peter Federer when he first discovered Indian strawberries in his garden a year ago. Back then there were only a few. This year the plants have broadened almost invasively. "At first I thought they were wild strawberries," says Federer. He tried one and was disappointed.
Other garden owners may also have been amazed when these strange strawberries suddenly appeared in a corner of the property. Leaves and fruits are similar to those of wild strawberries, but those who try hard will quickly be disappointed. Sweetness and taste are completely absent. It is just a dummy strawberry, more precisely the Indian dummy strawberry (Duchesnea indica). This plant does not belong entirely to the strawberry genus and is more closely related to cinquefoil, which is why it is also referred to in the literature under the name Potentilla indica. There are important features by which the plant can be distinguished from the wild strawberry: its flowers are yellow (not white), the fruits stand upright instead of hanging, the fruit has no hairs but pimples, it smells of nothing and it is inside completely white. The mock strawberry is native to South and Southeast Asia and is found in China, Afghanistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia, Japan and Korea. There it grows on mountain slopes in meadows, on river banks, field edges and damp locations up to 3100 meters above sea level. It was introduced as an ornamental plant in Central Europe in the mid-19th century, has become wild in places and is considered to be potentially invasive. In Central Europe it grows scattered in fresh hedges, on artificial turf, in urban courtyards, gardens and on the edges of forests. It is rather undemanding and can spread very quickly via runners. That is why it is very popular with gardeners as a ground cover. The leaves of the pseudo strawberry consist of three individual leaflets and are slightly hairy. The bright red fruits ripen in late summer and autumn. They contain little juice and taste rather bland, but are not poisonous.
Danger to the wild strawberry
Today, the pseudo-strawberry is firmly naturalized in settlements as a neophyte (new immigrants among the plants) and is quite common. Their expansion is not yet complete. As long as the species remains in the settlement area, everything is «half as wild», say the experts. But they also know that the Indian mock strawberry has the potential to penetrate into neighboring forest edges and forests and there to harass the native wild strawberry and other low herbs.
Experience from other neophytes shows that settlements were more often the starting point for invasive forest species. In the case of the Indian mock strawberry, these assumptions have not yet been confirmed. However, the plant will continue to be closely monitored by scientists in the future.
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