Some snake berry varieties are edible and taste similar to
strawberries, but others are toxic to humans. Learn about the various types of
snake berries and how to identify snake berries that are safe to eat.
What Exactly Are Snake Berries?
Snake berries refer to several species of North American
wild berry plants. The fruits produced by snake berry plants range from edible
Snake berries may have gotten their name from the
mythological idea of snakes being poisonous and deceptive. Some snake berry
varieties have characteristics similar to strawberries, earning them the
moniker "false berry," "false strawberry," or "mock
What Is the Difference Between Snake Berries and Wild Strawberries?
Snake berries, particularly Potentilla indica, are
frequently confused with wild strawberries by inexperienced foragers. However,
there are visual distinctions. Snake berries have yellow flowers and reddish,
toothed seeds that protrude from the flesh of the fruit. True strawberries have
white flowers and seeds that are tightly packed.
Do Snake Berries Have Health Benefits?
The majority of snake berry plants are toxic, but common
snake berries (Potentilla indica) are said to have some health benefits. Snake
berries are used medicinally by indigenous cultures due to their
anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.
5 Types of Snake Berries
The appearance and toxicity of snake berries vary. Snake
berries come in the following varieties:
1. Mock strawberry (Potentilla indica): This plant, which
also goes by the scientific name Duchesnea indica, is also known as snake berry
and snake strawberry. The berries resemble wild strawberries in size and
appearance, with serrated leaves and yellow flowers. While not poisonous, the
berries are rather bland and unappealing.
2. Climbing nightshade (Solanum dulcamara): Other names for
this plant include poison berry, bittersweet, fellenwort, violet bloom, and
scarlet berry. The small, smooth-skinned red berries of this plant contain
solanine, a poisonous compound.
3. Red baneberry (Actaea rubra): Green leaves and red
berries distinguish red baneberry, also known as cohosh and chinaberry. The
berries on this plant are smaller and smoother than those on wild strawberries.
The toxic berries can cause nausea and stomach cramping, and their intensely
unpleasant taste should deter anyone from eating more than one berry.
4. Straw lily (Clintonia borealis): This plant produces
small blue berries that are difficult to confuse with wild strawberry plants.
The fruit of this plant, also known as corn lily and yellow bead lily, is
mildly toxic and unpleasant to eat.
5. False lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum): This
plant, also known as two-leaved Solomon's seal, is popular among gardeners as a
ground cover. The small red berries are edible but not particularly tasty. They
spread quickly and can become invasive due to the rhizomes from which they