Strawberries - history, production, trade
The strawberry, whose scientific name is Fragaria vesca, F. viridis, or F. moschata , is a triangular red fruit, characterized by small dots, which we all well know for its intense and delicious flavour.
Actually, the strawberry is defined fruit improperly, because the actual fruits are the small dots on the strawberry, improperly called seeds.
Its origins are not well-defined: some sources claim that the strawberry is native to Europe and in particular to the area of Alps, while others consider the strawberry native to Chile, from where a French officer, in the early Eighteenth century, imported the mother plants in Europe, where they were used to create the hybrid Fragaria x ananassa, to whom all the varieties of strawberry currently available belong.
However, it seems that strawberries were already present on the tables of ancient Rome: the fruit was eaten during the celebrations in honour of Adonis. The legend says that when Adonis died, Venus shed copious tears, which, arriving on the Earth, were transformed into small red hearts: the fragrant strawberries.
According to other popular legends , more recent, but anyway lost in the mists of time, the strawberry would be able to protect from the bites of vipers and snakes: to avoid the dangerous poison of these animals, it is said that the leaves of this small plant should be collected on St. John's day. Therefore, people who collected the leaves on the 24th of June, essicated them and then made a braided belt, would have been protected from any possible bite, often fatal, of vipers and snakes. These are of course popular beliefs of the Italian peasant tradition, however these legends contribute to make strawberries even more extraordinary among all the fruits on our table.
Until the Seventeenth century, in Europe, native wild species Fragaria vesca, F. viridis, or F. moschata and other varieties of strawberry, brought from North America (F. virginiano) were cultivated: in particular, with the introduction of the American species, the plant of strawberries produced much more large fruits.