Perennial herb, spreading by runners to 20 cm tall Leaves: compound with three leaflets (trifoliate), basal, long-stalked, 3 - 20 cm long, widest above middle with a broad wedge-shaped base and a blunt to rounded tip, toothed to shallowly lobed. Flowers: several per stalk, borne on a leafless stalk arising from the ground (scape), yellow. The sepals are fused and have five triangular lobes, and the five petals are 5 - 10 mm long. Fruit: a slightly hairy achene, two to six per flower.
Similar species: Fragaria vesca and Fragaria virginiana are similar, but have pointed leaf tips, white petals, and juicy red fruit.
Flowering: April to May
Habitat and ecology: Very rare along sandstone ledges.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Waldsteinia is named after Count Franz Adam Waldstein-Wartenberg, an Austrian botanist. Fragarioides refers to this plant's resemblance to strawberry, Fragaria.
Petioles elongate; lfls broadly cuneate-obovate, serrate and usually shallowly lobed, the lateral ones asymmetrical; peduncles about equaling the lvs, with few to several fls. Moist or dry woods; Me. and w. Que. to Minn., s. to Pa., Ind., and in the mts. to Ga. and Ala. Apr., May. The widespread var. fragarioides, with obovate to broadly elliptic pet mostly 5-10 mm long and more than half as wide, obtuse or rounded and evidently exceeding the sep, tends to give way in the s. Appalachian mts. (at least southward) to var. parviflora (Small) Fernald, with lance-elliptic or narrowly elliptic pet mostly 2.5-5 mm long, less than half as wide, often acute, and shorter than to barely exceeding the sep. (W. parviflora; W. doniana, a garden plant probably of var. fragarioides, but the name often used for var. parviflora)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Extremely local in this state. It has been reported from only Clark and Jefferson Counties. I found it in talus at the base of a cliff along Little Blue River near the site of Carnes Mill about 2 miles south of Grantsburg in Crawford County; in talus on rocky ledges of the slope of Buck Creek where the creek parallels the road north of Dogwood in Harrison County; and in talus of the rocky slope of the North Fork of the Muscatatuck River about half a mile above Vernon, Jennings County.