A happy sight for many a hiker, our native strawberry peeks from the edges of shrubs and woodlands. Not as tasty or as luscious as a storebought berry, this tiny fruit is better recognized for its good looks. Pretty white flowers with yellow centers are accented by a few dark green, serrated leaves. As spring moves into summer, the flowers give way to fruit, which are quickly nibbled by insects, rodents and other critters.
Fragaria vesca can be found across most of California. Marin is also home to the beach strawberry, that grows close to the coast – mostly in sandy places. In the northern and eastern parts of the state you also might see the very similar Fragaria virginiana, or mountain strawberry. And if the plant has yellow blooms instead of white, you may be looking at a non-native mock strawberry. This looks very similar to Fragaria species, but is actually in an entirely different genus!