History of Strawberries

One of the most popular fruits of today, the strawberry, is basically a North American plant. Its popularity grew after the European settlers started the strawberry trade with the native Americans.

The strawberry plant is a member of the Rosaceae family and the genus, Fragaria. Against the common belief that strawberry is a fruit, the fleshy red outgrowth is actually the receptacle of the strawberry flower. Thus, it is also called as a 'false fruit'. Strawberry is cultivated on a large scale in the state of California in the US. Around 25,000 acres of land is under strawberry cultivation in the States. California produces around 80% of strawberry, that is consumed in the United States.

Strawberry Origin
The strawberry is a native plant of North America. The name 'strawberry', that it holds is derived from a farmers' practice of mulching the plant with straw. There is one more theory about the origin of the word strawberry. Strawberries being abundant in nature, was not cultivated as a cash-crop. Strawberries strewn among fallen leaves was a common sight in olden days. This might have lead to the development of the word strawberry from the two words, 'strewn' and 'berries'. In England, children used to pick strawberries scattered in the wild and sell them in local markets. In order to handle them properly, the strawberries were tied to pieces of straws. Varieties of strawberries are also found in Europe. The history of strawberry in Italy can be traced back to 234 BC.

History of Strawberry
The Europeans first discovered strawberry in the year 1588, in America. Since the fruit was easily available and abundant in the wild, the local Americans didn't cultivate it commercially. It was only after the demand from the European settlers, that the native Americans started its cultivation.

In ancient Europe, in Rome, the fruit was grown for the formulation of different types of medicines. In France too, the berries were used for medicinal purpose. The strawberries that grew in the Alpines were used to treat digestive problems and skin diseases. Roots and leaves of the strawberry plant along with fruits were used in these treatments.

Many new varieties of the strawberry were developed in the 1700s, in North America. The varieties that developed from the cross breeding of American and European strawberries were known for their sweet taste and the perfect size.

Carolus Linneaus the famous, taxonomist had recommended the use of strawberries for rheumatic gout and bowel cleansing. However, the studies that were conducted later didn't prove the efficacy of Linnaeus' prescription.

Madam Thérésa Tallien popularized the use of strawberries in cosmetics and facial treatments. A wealthy socialite from France, Theresa Tallien used to scatter sliced strawberry in bath water. She claimed that 'strawberry bath' protected her from any kind of skin problems. The 20th century saw the advent of strawberry cosmetics on a large scale. Strawberry is widely used in shampoos, moisturizers, cleansers, soaps, etc.

The strawberry fruit is grown in many parts of the world. Basically, a crop grown in temperate countries, it is now adapted to various tropical climates. In India, strawberry is mostly grown in Nainital and Mahabaleshwar. It has also been successfully grown in the plain regions along the hilly areas.

Strawberry is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The fact that strawberry contains less calories makes it an excellent food for diabetics and patients in general.

The sweet and tasty fruit, strawberry, has many qualities that make it a popular and also a nutritious fruit. The 'false fruit', strawberry thus, is truly a wonderful fruit on earth.


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