Species of the Month - February 2012

Barren Strawberry

Potentilla sterilis

An easy one this month, a fairly common plant and one of the first to flower.  I normally see one before the end of January but have not done so this year, so I wonder who will be the first to find one in flower, and on what date.  Records of plants not in flower are also welcome.

Potentilla sterilis   Potentilla sterilis

The plant is similar in many ways to the Wild Strawberry. in that it has leaves divided into three leaflets and flowers with five white petals.  In the Barren Strawberry, however, the petals are spaced well apart and each petal is usually slightly notched.  You are very unlikely to find Wild Strawberry in flower in February.

Potentilla sterilis  

Potentilla sterilis

The left-hand pic shows how soft and hairy the leaves are.  They are much less glossy than the leaves of the Wild Strawberry and can always be told by the hairs on the leaf underside which are angled away from the surface in Barren S but lie flat against the surface in Wild S.

Potentilla sterilis
5 sepals with 5 epicalyx segments between them
  Potentilla sterilis
After flowering

The plant does not produce anything resembling a strawberry fruit, hence its name.  After flowering the calyx folds inwards to form a five-sided pyramid.

Barren Strawberry occurs on dry ground in woodland, roadside banks, and open grassland.  It likes shade but can grow in full sun.

Please send in your Barren Strawberry sightings using the form below.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Flowering or not? 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat, amount 


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

5 Feb - found lots in a wood near Taynuilt but no flowers on them yet - Carl

6 Feb - plentiful on Ballachuan hazelwood floor but again no flowers - Carl

29 Feb - a few plants found in wood next to Clachan Sound, but no flowers - Carl

3 Mar- found some at Knipoch but no flowers - Carl

14 Mar - at last found one in flower in Oban.  Unbelievably late for the first one, in common with many other species this year.

30 Mar - they are in flower everywhere now following a spell of warm weather.

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated