Potentilla sterilis - Barren Strawberry

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Rosales - Family: Rosaceae

Potentilla sterilis, Barren Strawberry, close-up of flower

Barren Strawberry is a low creeping perennial; it produces white-petalled flowers about 1cm across but unlike Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca it does not produce tasty red fruits. The flower petals of Barren Strawberry are widely spaced, and sharply pointed green sepals extend out to or even slightly beyond the petal tips.

Barren Strawberry plant in flower


The lovely five-petalled flowers have slightly notched petals - a feature that helps separate Barren Strawberry from Wild or Alpine Strawberry.

Petals of Wild Strawberry and Barren Strawberry

Unnotched petal (left) of Wild Strawberry, and notched petal (right) of Barren Strawberry

Barren Strawberry produces tiny green fruits that are of no cullinary interest.

Leaf of Barren Strawberry

The toothed leaves of Barren Strawberry have pale edges and are very hairy on the underside. A distinguishing feature is the terminal tooth, which is shorter than the adjacent teeth.


Barren Strawberry is very common throughout Britain and Ireland, and its range covers most parts of mainland Europe. This perennial is native to many other regions of the northern hemisphere including much of Asia, North America and South America.


Shaded or partially shaded hedgerows, walls and dry grassy banks are good places to look for Barren Strawberry. This plant also grows in more open habitats in some upland areas.

Blooming Times

The flowers of Barren Strawberry appear in late spring and early summer.


Given the common name, it will come as no surprise to hear that Barren Strawberry is noit a plant sought by forragers - human or avian; however, its flowers are arguably more attractive than those of Wild Strawberry.


Potentilla, the genus name, means 'powerful, despite its small size' and is a reference to the claimed medicinal value of some plants in this genus. The specific epithet sterilis indicates that this species does not produce (edible) fruits.

Similar Species

Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca produces sweet red fruits, whereas Barren Strawberry Potentilla sterilis produces strawberry-like flowers but no edible fruits.

The pictures of Barren Strawberry shown on this page were taken in West Wales and in northern France during April, May and June.

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