Strawberries are one of the most easily recognizable fruits around the world. Due to its adaptability, they grow on every inhabited continent and truly thrive in the temperate regions around the world. But, these strawberry plants are usually taken for granted. They are not trees. They are not bushes. Have you ever stopped to think about what a strawberry plant really is?
Well, the genus Fragaria and all the species that fall within it are classified as Forbs or Herbs. There are two main traits that strawberries have that cause them to fall into this classification.
First, like all other forb/herb plants, they are vascular plants but do not have any significant amount of woody tissue above ground level to support vertical growth. This lack of stiff, woody tissue is the reason why strawberry plants will not grow much more than a foot tall, even under ideal conditions. The stems of the plant simply cannot hold itself upright. While non-forb/herb plants will thicken and support the plant’s bulk (think oak tree), strawberries would collapse if they grew too tall.
Secondly, the presence of perennating buds within the crowns of the plants further push them into being classified as a forb/herb. Perennating flower buds are buds that form during August and September the year prior to springing forth as a flower that will subsequently be pollinated and morph into a delightful red fruit. The buds are formed prior to the harsh temperatures that winter brings and before the plant dies back to ground level. During winter the plants and the flower buds are dormant, but as soon as warmer temperatures arrive in late winter or early spring, the buds spring forth to be pollinated as new strawberry flowers.
These two traits (lack of vascular woody tissue and the presence of perennating buds) are what cause strawberry plants to be a forb/herb. But, really, does anyone think about plant classification while eating a strawberry? Of course not. The flavor is the focus!