Strawberries, both wild and cultivated, grow vigorously in the cool spring and fall seasons. In hot, summer weather, strawberry plants go into a dormancy period. Wild strawberries grow along the edges of wooded areas where there is partial shade and cool, damp soil. If you are uncovering an abandoned garden, look for strawberry plants in areas with partial shade or full sun. Strawberry plants grow in large, spreading colonies.
Look for a low-growing plant that stands about 3 to 5 inches tall. Cultivated varieties are larger with clumps of plants 8 to 10 inches tall.
Examine the leafs. Each plant within the colony has three leaf stalks. Each leaf stalk produces three leaflets at the top--strawberry plants are called trifoliate for their three leaf structure. Each leaflet has a serrated edges and is covered with fine hairs. The stalks are also covered with fine hairs.
Look for flower stalks that grow directly from the ground between the leaf stalks. At the end of each stalk, small white flowers emerge. The flowers are about 1/4 to 3/4 inches across, have five petals and produce no scent.
Check for small, red fruits that hang down towards the ground after the flowers are spent in the late spring and early summer. The fruits are the about the size of a dime on most wild plants. Cultivated varieties produce larger fruits like the ones found in grocery stores and fruits stands.
Look for above ground runners that spread and form new plants. These runners grow close to the ground and are read in color. They are covered with fine hairs and grow up to 2 feet long before beginning a new plant.