Have you ever seen strawberries with leaves growing out of the fruit? This is called vivipary.
Vivipary, also known as phyllody, describes a condition that occurs when the embryo within the seed breaks through the seed coat while still attached to the parent plant. Viviparity mean “giving live birth’. Viviparity is normal for mammals, but it looks strange when strawberries and other plants do it.
When strawberries begin to exhibit vivipary, the tiny black seeds on the surface, called achenes, are actually sprouting leaves! These fuzzy strawberries are still edible, but the tiny leaves don’t taste very good. After showing it to all your friends and neighbors, you could try planting the viviparous strawberry, but you wouldn’t have any luck. Strawberry seeds that develop viviparously generally do not develop any roots.
Vivipary in strawberries is rare. While vivipary in other plants can be caused by phytoplasms (bacteria-like parasites carried by leafhoppers), physiological damage is the culprit in strawberries. This damage occurs in runners held in cold storage or subject to freezing temperatures during the winter.
So, protect your strawberry plants in winter and enjoy those luscious fruit in summer without tiny leaves attached!
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