x
 
 
Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Can Children Eat Ornamental Strawberry Plants?

By Maryann Kay
Red, juicy and sweet, strawberries are a child magnet.

Ornamental strawberries are grown for the landscape value of their pink flowers and bright green leaves. They also produce small red fruit which curious children may eat without harm. This is fortunate, as children are attracted to the color red, red fruit and juicy strawberries in particular. When it comes to the leaves, though, some caution should be taken by all children and adults not to ingest the leaves unless carefully prepared as tea.

Fruit

Ornamental plants produce small berries.

Even the small fruit of ornamental strawberries will attract children, and it is perfectly safe for them to eat the little berries. Ornamental strawberries are fragaria hybrids, a cross between a strawberry (Fragaria) and the marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris). Although tiny, the fruit is edible, but the berries will probably not be as delicious as berries from plants grown for fruit production. If a child has a reaction to the berries, he is likely allergic to all strawberries and they should be avoided.

Leaves

Partially dried or wilted leaves can be toxic.

Children should be cautioned not to eat the leaves of ornamental strawberry plants. Fresh leaves can do no harm, neither can completely dried ones. However, leaves that have been plucked and become wilted or partially dry can experience a toxic chemical change. When fresh healthy foliage is carefully and completely dried, the leaves from ornamental strawberries can be used as a tea ingredient.

Varieties

Ornamental strawberries are grown for their flowers and leaves.

Ornamental strawberries are grown massed in beds or as ground cover. The best ornamental strawberry varieties are those with deep pink abundant flowers such as Fragaria "Lipsitck". It grows 6 to 8 inches tall and spreads 12 inches wide. Pink Panda has lighter and smaller, 1-inch wide pink flowers but is widely available.

Culture

Weed out invasive plants.

Grow ornamental strawberry plants in full sun or light shade. Pink flowers appear abundantly from spring to fall. The leaves are evergreen year-round in most zones. In colder areas, cut back in late winter to renew the plant. This eliminates droopy old foliage and stimulates the production of fresh green leaves in spring. Ornamental plants reproduce by runners and can invade lawns.

 

About the Author

 

In her career, Maryann Kay has transitioned from advertising writer to corporate financial/consumer vice president on billion-dollar businesses. Along the way, she mastered entrepreneurship consulting, wine importing/travel and real estate businesses. A frequent speaker, writer and financial, travel and home care blogger, Kay's writing has appeared in national publications such as the "New York Times," "Wall Street Journal" and "Advertising Age."