How to Grow and Care for Mock Strawberries

Learn about the many ways to use Potentilla indica

Mock strawberry plant with rounded leaves and a red-burgundy fruit

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

In This Article

Mock strawberry (Potentilla indica) is a ground-hugging plant that spreads via stolens (also called runners). The upper leaflet surfaces are medium to dark green and hairless. Rather than the white flowers of true garden strawberries, mock strawberry flowers are yellow. Less than an inch in size, flowers bloom from April to June and sporadically through September. When in bloom, this groundcover reaches a height of about two and a half inches. Each stem reaches about one foot in length.

Red-burgundy fruit emerges in summer and fall as a mass of red seeds on a bumpy surface, expanding to small, rounded, bloated berries. While resembling miniature strawberries, fruits are very seedy and dry with little to no flavor. Similar in size to the flower from which they are borne, fruit measures less than one inch in length and width.

Flowers are often confused with the Potentilla species, such as the Shrubby Cinquefoil, and fruits resemble the Fragaria species, which includes common garden strawberries. This trailing wildflower was moved to the Potentilla genus because it is most closely related to potentilla plants. Thus, mock strawberry was renamed from Duchesnea indica and originally Fragaria indica and is now known as Potentilla indica,

Botanical Name Potentilla indica, formerly Duchesnea indica, originally Fragaria indica 
Common Names Mock strawberry, false strawberry, Indian strawberry, and Indian mock strawberry
Plant Type Fruit-bearing, deciduous groundcover
Mature Size  2.5 inches tall
Sun Exposure  Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type  Humus rich
Soil pH  Mildly acidic to mildly alkaline
Bloom Time  April to June
Flower Color  Yellow/gold
Hardiness Zones  5-9, USDA
Native Area  Asia (Afghanistan to Russian Far East)

Mock Strawberry Care

Mock Strawberry is considered an invasive species in some areas. Check with your local extension office before introducing it into your garden.

Native to Asia, particularly Afghanistan to Russian Far East, the mock strawberry was introduced to mid and coastal Eastern North America as an ornamental plant. Among other weeds that look similar to garden strawberry plants, mock strawberry is the most well-known. The plant often grows in disturbed soil and lawns where it is tolerant of mowing. It is considered by some to be an invasive noxious weed. It grows most prolifically in agricultural areas, forests, and wetlands.

Mock strawberry plant with rounded leaves near ivy plant with bright red fruit

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Mock strawberry plant with rounded toothed leaves climbing tree trunk with red fruit

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Mock strawberry plant with bright red fruit on stem closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Tolerant of a range of conditions, this groundcover grows best in full sun to partial shade.

Soil

While it is adaptable to different types of soil, it thrives best in humus rich soil. Maintain a soil pH of 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic), 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral), to 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline).

Water

Water regularly, if needed, but do not overwater. Because this plant is drought-tolerant, it is ideal for xeriscaping (water-wise or water-efficient landscaping).

Temperature and Humidity

Mock strawberry thrives in hot, dry areas of the United States.

Mock Strawberries vs. Other Types of Strawberries

Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) and other garden strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) are more juicy, sweet, and flavorful. Both the wild strawberry and mock strawberry have clusters of serrated leaves. The only difference is that mock strawberry leaves have little to no hair. Most other strawberry plants have hairy leaves.

Mock strawberry plants have yellow flowers while strawberry plants that produce the fruit we most regularly buy and consume have white flowers. Though the most obvious difference between these plants is the fruit itself. Both wild and mock varieties produce elongated orbs from white to red, but mock strawberry fruit is more spiky. Mock strawberry fruit points upward, while strawberry varieties tend to point downward.

Uses

Mock strawberry fruit, flowers, and leaves are edible. Berries can also help stretch other berries when making jam and jelly, and make a mildly flavored jelly or juice on their own. You can add raw berries to salads, cook leaves as a green for other dishes, and steep leaves for tea.

Propagation

Where it is hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9, the mock strawberry plant is a perennial plant that spreads via stolons or you can purchase seeds from online seed vendors.