STRAWBERRIES CHAPTER XIV
THE EVOLUTION OF CULTIVATED STRAWBERRIES
The strawberry has remarkable powers of adapting itself to climates and soils. In consequence it is found in one species or another in almost every part of the globe. But in general the many species are lovers of cool climates and of dry, loose, warm soils. Under culture strawberries belong distinctly to cold climates. In tropical and sub-tropical countries, the plants grow but languidly, refuse to bear abundantly, and the fruits are deficient in size, color, flavor, and the delicate fragrance from which the strawberry derives its generic name Fragaria. The plants are most luxuriant, and the fruits are most pleasing to eye and palate where greatest hardihood to cold is required. Wild or cultivated, strawberries are little esteemed in warm countries. Accordingly, they are valued most, and came to their present high estate as cultivated plants in the colder parts of the temperate zones, especially in Europe and North America, to whose peoples they owe domestication.
The strawberry is not only indigenous in many climates and soils, but wherever it grows, it is usually a very common plant. It propagates itself rapidly by runners and grows readily from seeds. Moreover, the seeds are widely and plentifully diffused by birds and animals. Therefore, in strictly agricultural regions, there has been little need to domesticate strawberries because of the abundance of the wild crops. The strawberry differs also, in a very important particular from most other domesticated fruits. Cultivation does not improve its flavor. Preference is often given to the wild fruits under the theory that fine flavor diminishes in proportion to greater size. It is only since we have had the modern strawberry, a matter of a century or thereabouts, that high quality has been embodied in large bulk
The strawberry has but lately come under cultivation. The ancient Greeks and Romans did not cultivate it. In France and England it is of a comparatively recent period among cultivated fruits. Its history dates back scarcely more than four centuries in French and English gardens.
After the currant and gooseberry, however, it has been longest cultivated of small fruits in North America, where it has been grown in gardens perhaps two centuries and in commercial plantations about a century. Indeed, as we shall see later, and as the study of its botany shows, the garden strawberry may well be called a New World fruit as it is derived mainly from species native of the Americas, and New World varieties, which greatly outnumber those of the Old World, have originated almost wholly in North America.
The manner of domestication and evolution of the strawberry, as to main events, persons concerned, dates and places, are fairly well known. Its botanical derivation, however, is still obscure despite the fact that species of wild strawberries of pomological promise do not number a dozen and but three or four of these have as yet awakened the interest of breeders. The difficulty is that the few species under cultivation have been hybridized to such an extent that a vast entanglement of strawberries has resulted. The early nomenclature of cultivated forms is a labyrinth of confusion in which no one can now find his way with surety.
Several notable botanists and pomologists have studied Fragaria, and the history and development of its cultivated offspring assiduously, yet no two arrive at the same conclusions as to the exact origin of the modern cultivated strawberry. All historical evidence seems to have been collected and examined by competent minds, without establishing whether the cultivated strawberry belongs to a single species, and what, or whether it is a hybrid and of what.
If the reader will turn to Chapter XV, The Systematic Botany of the Strawberry, he will find descriptions and botanical data on all species of Fra-garia, varieties of which are now cultivated or have been at one time or one place or another, whence have come by a tortuous route of hybridization the several thousand sorts grown in modern times. It is the purpose in the next few pages to give the history of the domestication of these several species and to tell as well as may be what part they have played in the evolution of our modern strawberry. The five species are F. vesca, F. tnoschata, F. viridis, F. virginiana, and F. chiloensis. These have been named in order of their introduction and in that order will be considered.
THE EUROPEAN OR WOOD STRAWBERRY
The common strawberry of Europe, the European or wood strawberry, is Fragaria vesca. This is the species in the minds of Old World pomologists since the earliest accounts of edible plants. It is the classical strawberry of Virgil, Ovid, and Pliny who mention it as a wild plant but not as an inhabitant of gardens. There seems to be documentary proof that this strawberry was cultivated in France as early as the fourteenth century, but it is usual to place its introduction in the fruit garden in the fifteenth century. Certainly Ruellius speaks of it as a garden plant in 1536 as do a half dozen or more other botanists and herbalists of the century as recorded by Sturtevant.1
There is no dearth of information as to when introduced and as to what the wild strawberry of Europe was at the time of its introduction into European gardens. Sturtevant, who had unusual opportunities to study the history of edible plants, found many discussions and descriptions of wild and cultivated strawberries in the sixteenth and the early part of the seventeenth centuries. He2 gives the following:
" The strawberry is figured fairly well in the Ortus Sanitatis, 1511, c. 188, but there is no mention of culture. Ruellius, however, 1536, speaks of it as growing wild in shady situations, says gardens furnish a larger fruit, and mentions even a white variety. Fuchsius, 1542, also speaks of the larger garden variety, and Estinne, 1545, (perhaps also in his first edition of the De Re Hortensi, 1535), says strawberries are used as delicacies on the table, with sugar and cream, or wine, and that they are of the size of a hazelnut; he says the plants bear most palatable fruit, red, especially when they are fully ripe; that some grow on the mountains and woods, and are wild, but that some cultivated ones are so odorous that nothing can be more so, and that these are larger, and some are white, others red, yet others are both red and white.
"Cultivated strawberries are also noted by many authors of the sixteenth century, as by Mizaldus, 1560; Pena and Lobel in 1571; and in 1586 Lyte's Dodoens records, 'they be also much planted in gardens/ Porta, 1592, regards them as among the delicacies of the garden and the delights of the palate. Hyll, 1593, says ' they be much eaten at all men's tables/ and that ' they will grow in gardens unto the bigness of a mulberry/ Le Jardinier Soli aire, 1612, gives directions for planting, and Parkinson, 1629, notes a number of varieties. As to size, Dorstenius, 1540, speaks of them as of the size of a hazelnut; Bauhin, 1596, as being double the size of the wild; the IIortus Eystettensis, 1613, figures berries one and three-eighths inches in diameter; Parkinson, in 1629, as ' neere five inches about;' Plat, 1653, as two inches about in bigness; Vaillant, 1727, as an inch and sometimes more in diameter"
Bunyard finds still earlier records than those given by Sturtevant. He3 writes:
"It is not easy to fix an exact date for the first mention of the Strawberry, but it is generally held that to Nicolas Myrepsus, a Greek doctor of the thirteenth century, must be accorded the honour, Both in Greek and Roman literature the Arbutus and the Strawberry were gven a common name, a result of the theory of affinities then so much in vogue Pliny, however, distinguished the difference in flavour, and the name ' fragum ' must, no doubt, have been first applied to the fragrant Strawberry. It does not seem, however, that it was then a cultivated plant, and it is usual to place its introduction to cultivation in the fifteenth century. There is, however, ample evidence that it was found in gardens long before this; documents exist which prove it was thus grown in the early part of the fourteenth century in France. The Royal Gardens at the Louvre under Charles V. possessed no fewer than 1200 plants, and many other records testify to the appreciation of the fruit by its presence in French gardens at this period."
From its earliest cultivation to the present time this strawberry has varied but little as grown in European gardens and is seemingly devoid of possibility of great improvement. Cultivated variet es, after 300 years in the garden, are scarcely better in plant and fruit characters than the wild type. The fruits on wild or cultivated plants are small and delicate and borne sparingly on plants which are not at all self-assertive and need watchful care in the garden. Some increases in the size of the fruits have been noted in cultivated varieties, but Bunyard, in the reference given, states that there are instances recorded, and gives examples, of large-fruited forms found in the wild and draws the conclusion that greater size in fruit of the pure-bred species is not only and always associated with cultivation.
It is impossible to say how many varieties of F. vesca have been cultivated in Europe, but no one of them has ever been widely or commonly grown in America. It is to be found now only in the plantations of botanic gardens or plant breeders on this side of the Atlantic. The Fressant seems to have been one of the first and the most prominent of the varieties of this species in England and France, and was at one time much grown in the fruitgrowing regions about Paris.
Reference to the discussion of the botany of this species, page 373, shows that in Europe there are several varieties and forms besides the type, some of which have aroused interest as curiosities but none of which excepting the Alpine strawberry, var. semperflorens efflagellis, to be discussed later, has found a place in fruit gardens.
It remains now to be said that F. vesca is found rather commonly in its var. Americana in eastern North America, and that, as with the type species in Europe, no garden variety of note has ever arisen from it. Here, as abroad, plants and fruits fall far short of the common garden strawberry.
The Alpine strawberry, F. vesca semperflorens efflagellis, is the everbearing strawberry of Europe and has been cultivated more or less, formerly more than now, for its long-fruiting season. It is a native of the southern slopes of the Alps, hence the name Alpine. From its everbearing habit it is sometimes called the Monthly, and the Perpetual strawberry. There are several points of difference between this form and the type, chief of which is, of course, the summer and autumn-fruiting habit of the variety; but, besides, the fruits are seldom as elongate, and the peduncles are longer and bend downward with the weight of fruit
This strawberry was described as a garden plant in the middle of the eighteenth century but was known by botanists at least 200 years before. Possibly some 50 or 60 varieties of these everbearing strawberries have been grown in Europe with more or less success, a few with marked success. Several of these have been white-fruiting sorts, and one, the Bush Alpine, was runnerless, of which there was also a white-fruited variety. From time to time varieties of Alpine strawberries have been introduced in America, usually with extravagant claims as to the autumn-bearing habit, but no pure-bred garden variety of it has proved of value in this country.
Another European strawberry long under cultivation but now of little importance is Fragaria moschata, the Hautbois strawberry, distinguished from F. vesca chiefly by the larger plant, an inflorescence that is almost or quite umbellate, and a strong musky flavor in the fruit. Under cultivation there have been hybrids with F. vesca and no doubt these have occurred in the wild as well so that there is more or less difficulty in keeping the two species distinct. The flowers of this species are dioecious and since in its early cultivation nothing was known of sex in plants, males were destroyed, whereupon, of course, the females bore no fruits. While common in many parts of Europe, this species is not as widely distributed as is F. vesca in the Old World.The botanists and herbalists of the sixteenth century mention this strawberry as a cultivated plant, and from time to time garden varieties were introduced, such as the Apricot, Framboise, and Royal in France, and the Black, Globe, and Prolific in England. In Germany, near Hamburg, a variety or varieties of F. moschata are still grown and much liked for their rich flavor and musky odor, but are seldom profitable because of the small size of the berries and unproductiveness of the plants.
This exceedingly variable species is now and probably has been cultivated for several centuries in Europe as a curiosity and somewhat for its fruits, especially when hybridized with one of the two preceding species. It is a very dwarf, densely hairy plant bearing small fruits none too delectable in the pure species. It has been hybridized with F. vesca and F. moschata to produce sorts grown in France and Germany. None of its offspring are of garden importance now and it may be eliminated as a factor in the improvement of the cultivated strawberry of the future. It is much more interesting in its botany, which the reader should look up on page 377, than in its pomology.
In studying the descriptions and illustrations of plant and fruit of these three European strawberries one quickly comes to the conclusion that none of them responds well to cultivation or to such selection as has -been practiced to secure better varieties. Cultivated sorts have differed little from their wild prototypes. The strawberry, it would seem, could never have reached great prominence as a cultivated fruit had all dependence been placed on European species
The commonest strawberry in North America, certainly in the eastern part of the continent, is Fragaria virginiana and its botanical varieties which pass under the common names wild strawberry, scarlet, and Virginian strawberry. This is the common strawberry which was mentioned by the early European explorers and pioneers on our Atlantic seaboard and is the wild strawberry of the fields and woods which has given a delectable fruit to the inhabitants of eastern North America, whether Indians or whites, during all time.
In the seventeenth century this strawberry was taken to Europe, the exact date, as recorded by Jean Rodin, gardener to Louis XIII, being 1624. From France, in turn, it was taken to England where it seems to have immediately found favor for it was soon widely cultivated by the English who made importations of both seeds and plants from the United States and Canada. In time it became an escape from cultivation, and undoubtedly hybrids arose in both gardens and the wild in many parts of Europe.
The berries of the Virginian strawberry are handsome in color and form and delicious in taste and aroma but run small and no art of the cultivator seems to increase their size. For more than a hundred years only the wild form could be found in English gardens despite the widely different environment under which it must have been grown both there and on the continent. Like the European species it seemed incapable of great variation. Two hundred years after its introduction in Europe, and after widespread cultivation in Great Britain, but twenty-six named sorts were listed by Barnet, writing for the Transactions of the London Horticultural Society in 1824.
A few varieties of the Virginian are still grown in England, chiefly for jam, and in the list of varieties described in this text as American sorts perhaps a score are pure-bred offspring of Fragaria virginiana. As a hybrid, as we shall see, it probably plays a very important part.
The several botanical varieties described in Chapter XV vary considerably in their value in the garden; therefore for use in attempts at amelioration or for plant breeding. Unfortunately these comparative values are not yet as well determined as might be wished.
The most conspicuous landmark in the domestication of the strawberry is the introduction of the Chilean, Fragaria chiloensis, in Europe early in the eighteenth century. This species, as will be set forth in the discussion of its botany, is a native of western South and North America in the mountain ranges near the coast and might perhaps better be called the Pacific strawberry. It was taken from Chile to France in 1712 by a Captain Frezier, thence to England at least as early as 1727.
Little seems to have come from the Chilean strawberry for a hundred years after its introduction into Europe and then its rapid amelioration became one of the most remarkable phenomena recorded in pomology. Within a half century after this marked improvement began, as indicated by the introduction of many new and better varieties, the cultivation of all other species had practically ceased, and the strawberry in North America and Europe had passed from a minor to a major fruit in the two continents.
There has been much speculation as to what the stimulus or stimuli were that started the strawberry on this unwonted career of improvement. Perhaps no other fruit has had more careful and diligent study as to origin and the means employed to bring plant and product to present perfection than the strawberry. Beginning with Duchesne in 1766 down to the present time, one or more men well trained in botany and pomology have searched the records and studied wild and cultivated plants of this fruit to determine its origin, the means of amelioration, and in particular the stimuli that started it, a hundred years ago, to produce larger and better-flavored fruits.
Space does not admit of a detailed review of the work of these strawberry students since the results as published run into several monographs and many technical papers. Perhaps what has been learned in the extended and excellent studies of the origin of this fruit may be best summarized by quoting from the four men who have last given the evolution of the strawberry studious attention with the view of determining how the large-fruited strawberries came into existence.
Sturtevant believed that the modern strawberry is derived through hybridization of two European and two American species. He4 summarizes his belief as follows:
"The modern varieties under American culture have usually large berries with more or less sunken seeds, with the trusses lower than the leaves, and seem to belong mostly to the species represented in nature by Fragaria Virginiana, although there are supposed hybridizations with Fragaria Chiloensis, and, in the higher flavored class, with Fragaria elatior. Certain it is that in growing seedlings from our improved varieties reversions often occur to varieties referable to the Hautbois and Chilian sorts, from which hybridization can be inferred. I have noted as of common occurrence that seedlings from high-flavored varieties are very likely to furnish some plants of the Hautbois class, and even scarcely, if at all, distinguishable from named varieties of the Hautbois with which there has been opportunity for close comparison. From large berried varieties of diminished flavor, and which occasionally throw hollowed berries, the reversion occasionally produces plants unmistakably of the Chilian type. In other cases we have noticed reversions to forms of Fragaria vesca. These circumstances all lead towards establishing the mingled parentage of our varieties under cultivation, and render the classification of cultivated varieties somewhat difficult."Bailey, writing a few years later than Sturtevant, doubts the theory that hybridity was the starting point of the present race of cultivated strawberries and concludes, after a painstaking review of the literature and a thorough study of wild and cultivated strawberry plants, that the garden strawberry is a direct modification of F. chiloensis. His5 answer to the question under which he writes " Whence Came the Cultivated Strawberry?" is:
" There is only one conclusion, therefore, which fully satisfies all the demands of history, philosophy, and botanical evidence, and this is that the garden strawberries are a direct modification of the Chile strawberry. The initial variation occurred when species were thought to be more or less immutable, and, lacking exact historical evidence of introduction from a foreign country, hybridization was the most natural explanation of the appearance of the strange type. This modified type has driven from cultivation the Virginian berries, which were earlier introduced into gardens; and the original type of the Chilian strawberry is little known, as it tends to quickly disappear through variation when impressed into cultivation. The strawberry is an instance of the evolution of a type of plant, in less than fifty years, which is so distinct from all others that three species have been erected upon it, which was uniformly kept distinct from other species by the botanists who have occasion to know it best, and which appears to have been rarely specifically associated with the species from which it sprung."
Bunyard,6 an able and careful English pomologist and a student of the origin and evolution of hardy fruits, is of the opinion, as set forth in the following brief quotation from an admirable paper on The History and Development of the Strawberry, that this fruit is an admixture of species. The quotation is as follows:
"In conclusion the writer submits that the history of the Strawberry offers but little support to those who believe in the paramount influence of cultivation in the production of new forms. Its entire development has been due to the introduction of new species having some quality not possessed by existing varieties and its admixture with these by crossbreeding."
The last investigator to publish at length on the origin of the strawberry is Fletcher7 whose monograph on The Strawberry in North America is a model of excellence in the study of the evolution of a cultivated plant. In this work the whole trend of Fletcher's discussion of the origin of the strawberry shows his belief that the garden form is a hybrid.
"Extended study of the botanical characters of the several species, and of their behavior under cultivation and hybridization, is necessary to establish with certainty the origin of the garden form. This has not yet been given, but the presumption is strong, from the foregoing evidence, that both the Chilean and Virginian species are represented in modern varieties/'
Fletcher is strongly of the opinion that the Virginian strawberry played a much more important part in the evolution of the garden strawberry of North America than in that of this fruit in Europe. He brings forth such an array of proof that one is forced to believe that he has established the fact that the native species has entered more largely in the hybrid constitution of the American than of the European strawberry.
These quotations by no means cover all of the theories as to the origin of garden strawberries. Other writers have suggested a derivation from other species and other hybrid combinations. It seems now, however, that only the two theories set forth in the quotations are tenable, and of the two that that of hybridity is plainly established.
This text can offer little that is new on the origin of the strawberry. Previous workers seem to have brought forth every fact that would throw light on the evolution of this fruit and the botanical studies have been equally thorough. If any contribution can be made by the workers at this Station to the interesting question of how the strawberry has come to its present splendor of development it must be from the plant breeder's standpoint, and even here, since no definite studies have been undertaken, only an opinion based on observation can be offered.
For thirty years this Station has been growing seedlings of crossed and selfed varieties and species of strawberries. The total number of such seedlings now exceeds 30,000. As these words are being written about 5000 seedling strawberries from 15 crosses are in fruit and their plant and fruit characters are being described by the Station workers in pomology. Now the veriest tyro in strawberry study can detect the characters of Fragaria chiloensis and F. virginiana in these seedlings. The characters of one species predominate here; those of another there. A comparison has been made today of herbarium specimens, type plants of F. chiloensis and F. virginiana growing in the field, and the seedlings of these crosses. All of the characters of the two species, in widely varying numbers and in widely different degree, are found in the crosses and in individual plants.
There are also at the present moment in fruit on the Station grounds 134 of the varieties now most commonly cultivated in North America.Every one of these kinds that has attained prominence in garden or field seems to show the characters of the two great American wild species. They seem to the workers at this Station to be unmistakably hybrids with no pure-breds.
Perhaps another statement of opinion may be submitted even if it has little value as definite proof. These cultivated varieties and seedlings fruiting on our grounds this season, and in the past, as plantations of other seasons have been kept in mind or can be brought to mind by looking over descriptions of other seasons, seem to show that F. virginiana greatly predominates over F. chiloensis in these North American strawberries, a hypothesis that Fletcher has ably defended in his The Strawberry in North America.
We leave this discussion of F. chiloensis, the introduction of which in Europe seems to mark the beginning of the modern development of the strawberry, with the statement that: Evidence now seems to show that the modern garden strawberry of North America and Europe is a hybrid between F. virginiana and F. chiloensis.
THE STRAWBERRY IN NORTH AMERICA
The strawberry is preeminently an American fruit by reason of extensive cultivation and use as well as because of the nativity of the species which have given the world most of its cultivated varieties. In extent of acreage, quantity produced, value of crop, and number of cultivated varieties, the strawberry exceeds all of the other small fruits together in the United States and ranks high among tree fruits. This great strawberry industry is a development of the last hundred years, almost a matter within the memory of men still living. In the history of the industry, the conspicuous landmarks are easily pointed out.
Early settlers found wild strawberries in luxurious abundance in almost every part of North America. It has ever been and still is the fruit of fruits for the pioneer. The plentifulness of wild berries makes cultivation unnecessary until agriculture has taken possession of a region. This seems not to have happened in any part of North America until just before the Revolution, although it may be surmised that thrifty housewives brought in superior plants from the fields to grow in the garden long before. Wild strawberries were freely sold in all American towns, however, as early as 1700. But the first landmark in American strawberry culture appears in 1771 when varieties for sale were offered in a trade catalog.In his catalog of 1771, William Prince, Flushing Landing, New York, offers four kinds of strawberries for sale: Large Hautboys, the Chili, the Redwood, and the Wood strawberry. The first two we are already familiar with; the Redwood was probably a variety of F. vesca, and the fourth no doubt was the common wild strawberry F. virginiana. In 1791 Prince adds a fifth variety, the Hudson, which was to remain long in cultivation and may be named as the first American strawberry of importance. It was without doubt an improved form of F. virginiana. The name of the Hudson soon after seems to have been changed to Early Hudson, possibly to distinguish it from Hudson's Bay, a later kind, which with the Large Early Scarlet were being sold in several agricultural centers in 1800.
Perhaps the year 1800 is as accurate a date as any to put down as the beginning of the strawberry industry in America. There were at this date, as we have just seen, three very good varieties in commercial cultivation, cultural directions were appearing in the few agricultural papers of the times, and the New England Farmer, a cyclopedia of agriculture which appeared in 1823, and at once became the standard authority of the country on farming, had published a " system " of strawberry culture.
Important historical items now appear in rapid succession, few of which can be amplified in this brief review. The next one worthy of note is the introduction of the Pine strawberry, which was of importance because from it have come nearly all of the varieties now cultivated in America. This strawberry, one of the first varieties of F. chiloensis to be widely cultivated in Europe where it was common in England and France by the middle of the eighteenth century, had possibly been brought to America before the close of the century but no record of such an introduction appears until 1804 when it was mentioned in The American Gardener, the first American book wholly devoted to horticulture.
Horticulture as a profit-making industry at the beginning of the nineteenth century had its seat about the four large cities of the country, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. One may glean many items from the news and horticultural papers, as well as from the books on fruits which were now appearing, to show that by 1825 commercial strawberry growing was an important industry about the cities named. At this time the leading varieties seem to have been Large Early Scarlet, Hudson Bay, Early Hudson, and Crimson Cone, the histories of which are set forth in the chapter on varieties.
Cultural methods were still primitive and mostly derived from European practices. The greatest advances in the industry, then as now, and as with any other fruit at any time, were in the greater numbers and in the betterment of varieties. By 1834, when the epoch-making Hovey originated, there were more than fifty well-recognized varieties under cultivation in the country, nearly all of which were offspring of F. virginiana but nearly all of which had originated in England or France. A few of the Pine varieties, as sorts derived from F. chiloensis were called, had also been introduced from abroad, but the cold winters and hot summers played havoc with the plants. Possibly the most noted exception was the Mulberry, a Pine much grown about Boston which deserves a place in strawberry history because it was one of the varieties Hovey used in making his crosses, an event to which we now come.
The origination of the Hovey was a landmark not only in strawberry culture but also in American pomology as it is accredited by all as the first variety of any fruit to come from an artificial cross in this country. Hovey,1 whose portrait appears as the frontispiece, and to whom this volume is thereby dedicated, undertook the breeding of strawberries because, as one gleans from his writings, he recognized the urgent need of better varieties and saw the possibilities of improving wild strawberries. All of the varieties he knew were best marked by their imperfections, plants were unproductive, and berries were small and poor in quality. The Pines from Europe approached perfection in fruit but were poor in plant; American plants were hardy and vigorous but the fruits were small and insipid. Why not cross varieties of the two species?
Hovey first exhibited the strawberry which bears his name in 1838. The variety came from one of six crosses made in his garden in Boston in 1834, the pollen and pistillate parents being Keens Seedling, Mulberry, Melon and Methven Scarlet, of which the first two were Pines, the third probably a Pine, and the last certainly a native Virginiana. The parents were chosen by Hovey with the hope that he might get the large, richly flavored fruit of the Pines on the better plant of the native sort. The seedlings obtained from these crosses gave two varieties, Hovey and Boston Pine. Unfortunately the labels were lost in some division of his work so that Hovey was never certain what the parents of these varieties were.
Hovey was the sensation of its times in pomology. Its large, handsome, delectable berries delighted all lovers of fruit. The country was then enthusiastically supporting all institutions having to do with horticulture, magazines, papers, societies, fairs, exhibitions, and nurseries,and through these agencies the Hovey was soon distributed to strawberry growers in all parts of North America, and everywhere it stimulated interest in this fruit with the result that the strawberry became a major pomological product before the middle of the century.
The Hovey, however, soon showed several weaknesses, but its place was taken at once by newer and still better varieties which now began to appear in a continuous pageant which has come down, with ever-increasing numbers, to the present time. It was found that the Hovey succeeded only under the highest culture, made few plants, and that, since it was pistillate, pollen-bearing varieties must be planted with it to secure a sufficiently productive crop, a fact which brought to a fuller and eventually a final discussion of sex in strawberries, the vagaries of which had long been a troublesome problem to American strawberry growers.
It had been known in Europe since 1760 that there was a separation of sexes in some strawberries and application was made of the knowledge in France and England. Few of the Pine strawberries, however, as grown in England at least, needed cross-pollination to set fruit, and when the Hovey was introduced, most of the American varieties were staminate so that there was a difference of opinion in English-speaking countries as to whether separation of sex was a cause of unproductiveness. The pistillate Hovey started anew the study of sex in this fruit, brought forth new facts, inspired experimental work in pollination, and after a decade of discussion from 1840 to 1850 in the press and in all American pomological societies, it was established that some varieties of strawberries were hermaphrodites and others unisexual, and that pistillate sorts must be cross-pollinated to bear fruit. With this knowledge, strawberry growing passed the troublesome obstacle of unproductiveness from self-sterility and the industry was given another forward impetus.
The Hovey was the first notable variety in the present race of large-fruited strawberries in America, and perhaps the brief account of its introduction and its influence on strawberry culture in the country may be put down as the last important landmark needful in this sketch of the strawberry in North America. It remains now to show the present magnitude of strawberry growing in the United States. Table 4 gives this information.
Table 4, Acreage, Yield and Value of Strawberries in the United States in 1919, by Divisions
Division and State
Yield (in quarts)
Middle Atlantic.... East North Central. West North Central
East South Central. West South Central.
New Hampshire... .
East North Central:
3,353 I3,9O9 24,258 18,147 18,058 16,038 13,136
4,872 5,029 4,008
4,172 3,4Oi 4,985 8,048 3,652
24,065,552 36,133,472 26,048,603 23,497,227 19,673,040 17,690,967 2,158,654 21,344,616
893,740 489,774 428,335
8,579,563 8,301,893 7,184,096
7,165,957 4,277,646 6,901,199
$1,562,569 5,225,366 6,730,264 5,441,459 4,653,123 3,730,408 3,812,882 493,290 4,354,884
H7,545 107,086 787,844 29,162 297,494
1,973,304 1,743,400 1,508,662
Division and State
Yield (in quarts)
West North Central:
District of Columbia
East South Central:
West South Central:
10,375 32,467 99,398
1. Hedrick, U. P. Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants 274. 1919.
2. Hedrick, U. P. Ibid. 274. iqkj.
3. Jour. Roy. Hort. Soc. 39:541.
4. Trans. Mass. Hort. Soc. 200, 201. 1888.
5. Bailey, L. H. Am. Nat. 28:293. 1894.
6. Jour. Roy. Hort. Soc. 39:550. 1913-14.
7. Fletcher, S. W. The Strawberry in North America 137, 138. 1917.