A: This is the stem, or peduncle, of the strawberry. It is a form of "petiole" (see "I", below) and is the part of the strawberry that connects it to the rest of the strawberry plant while the fruit is growing.
B: This is the pith of the strawberry. It has almost no flavor and is usually discarded along with the hull (see "D", below) when the strawberry is being prepared.
C: This is an achene. Most people think these are seeds, but actually they are the TRUE fruits of the strawberry, similar to a sunflower seed AND its shell. A medium-sized strawberry of most varieties has about 200 achenes, so it's not surprising that they (and the pistils associated with them--see "K", below) are among the most numerous of all strawberry parts.
Strawberries are not considered true berries by botanists (plant scientists). They are called "pseudocarps", and the part of a strawberry that we all love so much is actually the "receptacle" (see "K", below), the part of the plant that produces the fruit (rather than the fruit itself).
D: This is the calyx of the strawberry. It is also called the "hull" or "cap". This part is removed along with the pith (see "B", above) of the strawberry when the strawberry is being prepared. It is important to leave the calyx on the strawberry until it is used or frozen to help keep the strawberry from spoiling. (Note: this part is also often called the "crown", but the crown is actually the part of the strawberry plant where the stems and roots meet, shown in "G" below.)
E: This "string" of lighter-colored flesh connecting the pith (see "B", above) with an achene is called a vascular bundle.
F: The main flesh of the strawberry is called the cortex.
The skin of a strawberry is called the epidermis--the same as the name for our skin.
The next three photographs show a mix of some additional strawberry parts as well as some other parts of a strawberry plant.
A and D: These strawberry parts are the peduncle and the calyx, respectively, the same as in the strawberry cross-section.
G: This is the crown of the strawberry plant. The crown is the junction point between the roots of the plant and the above-ground parts of the plant. The crown has five different kinds of parts emanating from it:
Strawberries are considered by scientists to be a type of rose. It is interesting to note that the thorns on plants more commonly regarded as roses are also stipules. In strawberries, the stipules are the part of the strawberry plant from which new leaves sprout each spring.
The stolons that axillary buds often generate are a second, asexual form of reproduction for strawberry plants. This is the only available reproduction option for most of the hybrid varieties of strawberries commonly raised today, since a hybrid's seeds are typically "hybrid-sterile". In reproducing, the stolons grow outward from the plant, and as they do, they typically form a first and then a second bracht-like structure called a "node" (see "M", bracht, below). The second node is usually the one that will root and form a "daughter" plant (the original plant is called the "mother" plant). Daughter plants can usually be severed from the mother plant and transplanted within 2 weeks to 1 month of their rooting themselves.
With asexual reproduction, each daughter plant is a "clone" of the mother plant, since the daughter is genetically identical to the mother. This is another reason for preferring to raise plants reproduced by stolons/runners: the drought and disease tolerances, berry production, etc. of these plants will be exactly the same as the previously observed mother plant up to genetics, since they are genetically the same. This type of certainty about the plant's nature and tolerances is not possible with sexual reproduction (that is, growing the plants from seed).
The roots of a strawberry plant are concentrated within a radius of half a foot (15 cm) of its crown, with anywhere from half to almost all of the roots growing in this volume. This relatively small need for growing space is why strawberries are such good candidates for container growing.
H: This is a leaf blade. Strawberries are "trifoliate" plants. This means that each leaf is considered by scientists to consist of three leaf blades (along with the petiole, labeled "I" in the photograph above) that connects them, and the stipules at the base of the petiole. The breathing pores, called "stomata", of leaf blades are entirely on their undersides, something that is important in the care of strawberry plants (greater resistance to certain herbicides, importance of keeping leaf blades off of the ground, etc.).
I: This is a petiole. It carries water and minerals to the leaf blades as well as holding the blades up to the light. The petiole also carries sugar down from the leaf blades to the rest of the plant.
J: This is a flower petal. This flower has six petals, but strawberry varieties with five petals are more common. Petals reflect ultraviolet light much more than other surfaces in nature. This serves to attract bees, which are the primary pollenators of strawberries (bees are visually attracted to certain patterns of reflected UV light). After pollenation of the pistils the petals fall off.
K: This is a receptacle and its pistils. The receptacle is what will mature into what is incorrectly called the strawberry "fruit" (see "C", achene, above).
The tiny dots pointing out of the surface of the receptacle are the pistils, and these are perhaps the strawberry parts that most effect the final shape of the berry. An achene will form at the bottom of each pistil, provided that it is pollenated soon enough (within a week to 10 days after the flower opens). If a pistil does not get pollenated in time then the underlying area of the receptacle will not develop and the berry will be deformed.
Strawberry plants range greatly in the number of pistils that their flowers have, from 50 - 60 per flower to ten times that many (or even more for a few strawberry varieties that yield truly enormous fruits). For a plant that produces average-size strawberries, the number of pistils is about 200 (the same as the number of achenes on the strawberries).
L: The small yellow dots are stamens. They are yellow because of the pollen that they produce for the plant. Each flower has 20 or more stamens.
M: This is a bract. It is a branching point for the plant's inflorescences. Strawberries produced before the first bracht forms (strawberries from "primary" blossoms) tend to be the largest. Blossoms and their berries that form...
The basic rule for the size of strawberries relative to bracht number is simple: the more brachts, the more berries, but the smaller the berries (which is why larger strawberry farms typically cut off all of the blossoms after the primaries--they want the strawberries from the remaining primary blossoms to be larger).
N: This is a sepal. There are twice as many sepals as petals for each flower, and the sepals collectively form the calyx, one of the strawberry parts (see "D", above).
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