Waldsteinia lobata

Common Name: piedmont barren strawberry 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall, Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it is best grown in moist, rich, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates full sun as long as soils are kept consistently moist. Best growth occurs in cool summer climates. This species has small underground rhizomes but lacks the aggressively spreading runners found on some plants in this genus (e.g., Waldsteinia ternata and Waldsteinia fragarioides). Basal rosettes rise up from the tips of the rhizomes as plants slowly spread to form colonies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Waldsteinia lobata, commonly called waldsteinia or lobed barren-strawberry, is a low-growing, evergreen to semi-evergreen, strawberry-like, mat-forming perennial of the rose family that typically grows in a clump of basal leaves to 6-8” tall, but will slowly spread over time by short rhizomes to form a dense ground cover. It is native to shady humid areas in floodplain forests, on terraces above mountain streams, and on moist rocky slopes primarily in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It often grows in the same areas as rhododendron and mountain laurel. Another common name for this plant is Piedmont barren-strawberry. This species is very uncommon in the wild and is classified as a threatened species in the State of Georgia.

Coarsely textured, long-stalked, 3-5 lobed, medium green, basal leaves (each to 3” long and as wide) have irregular toothed margins. Leaves (both sides) and leaf stalks are hairy. Leaves are evergreen to semi-evergreen, turning burgundy red throughout fall and winter before producing new green foliage in spring.

Small, saucer-shaped, yellow flowers (3/8” wide) on naked stalks (typically 4-8 flowers per stalk) bloom slightly above the foliage in mid to late spring (April-May). Each flower has five yellow petals and five alternating green sepals (both about the same length) with a center clump of up to 50 showy yellow stamens. Flowers are followed by small, dry, inedible fruits (nutlets) which mature in June-July. Leaves, flowers and fruits of plants in this genus somewhat resemble those of wild strawberry hence the additional common names of mock strawberry and barren strawberry for genus plants.

Genus name honors Count Franz Adam von Waldstein-Wartenberg (1759-1823), Austrian botanist and writer.

Specific epithet means lobed in reference this plant’s three-lobed leaves (leaves of Waldsteinia fragarioides have three separate leaflets).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs.

Garden Uses

Ground cover for moist partially shaded areas. Stream and pond banks. Slopes. Rock gardens.