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A Great Native Groundcover

by Barry Glick

<i>Waldsteinia fragrioides<i/>
Waldsteinia fragarioides, Barren Strawberry

Waldsteinia fragarioides is one of the most versatile groundcovers I've ever grown. I use it in full shade and in full sun.

It's native to AL, AR, CT, GA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV in the US and NB, ON, QC in Canada and will grow happily in just about any climate.

The growing habit is that of a mat-forming plant (2" to 6" tall) which spreads by runner-like rhizomes creeping just below the soil surface. Waldsteinia fragarioides sports 5-petaled bright yellow flowers (3/4" diameter) which bloom singly or in clusters in mid to late Spring, and trifoliate leaves with wedge-shaped leaflets (each 1-2" long). Flowers and leaves appear on separate stalks and the foliage is evergreen, but turns a sexy bronze color in cooler climes. The fruits produced are not really berries however, they're single-seeded achenes which are inedible, hence the common name of "Barren Strawberry".

In one of the perennial beds in my garden, I used Waldsteinia fragarioides to replace some Vinca that I had unknowingly planted 30 years ago and had struggled with removing for the past 10 years. I think I finally got it all! It's a dry, full sun area and the Waldsteinia has gently carpeted the ground like a painting. I also use it in a somewhat moister, shady bed under a Birch tree and it is equally as happy there as in the sun bed.

Even if it wasn't brilliantly glistening with primrose yellow flowers in mid to late spring, the foliage is delightful and holds up well all the growing season long as it appears to have no insect, pest or disease problems.

As a bit of botanical trivia, the genus Waldsteinia was named for Francis Adam, 1759-1823, an Austrian botanist, author and the Count of Waldstein-Wartenburg. The specific epithet fragarioides refers to the strawberry like foliage, Fragaria being the name of the genus that strawberries are found in. Both plants are members of the Rosaceae (Rose) family, a very large family of plants with over 3000 species in more than 100 genera, the genus Rosa (Rose) being the most well known.

I'd love for you to experience this plant in your garden. For more information visit


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