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Strawberry (Fragaria)

A popular, red, juicy, summer fruit, growing round a central hull, and covered with tiny seeds.

Strawberries are a member of the rose family, their name deriving from the Anglo-Saxon streawberige, which doesn''t allude to the laying of straw around the plants, but to the way plants are inclined t stray, by means of layers of runners.

Until fairly recently, strawberries more resembled what we now call ''alpine'' strawberries.

The modern fruit is a development from those found by the French explorer Amédé Frézier on what is now the coast of Chile. He called them beach strawberries (fragaria chiloensis) - but the plants he brought back to Europe were all female. French growers later discovered that these strawberries would produce fruit if planted next to Virginia strawberries - and they called the resulting breed ''pineapple strawberries'' (fragaria ananassa).

At the end of the 18th century, Thomas Knight, an English fruit breeder, developed this pineapple strawberry into the beginnings of the big, sweet fruit now grown commercially.

Strawberries have more mineral content per kilo than any other fruit (bananas being a close second. This are also rich in vitamins C, B1 and B2. See 'Strawberries; Medicinal uses'; 'Strawberries; to store'; our Recipe Section

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