(adapted from The Herbalist's BibleThe Herbalist's Bible, p205)

In the time of the king’s herbalist John Parkinson (1567–1650) strawberries were always wild. If you wanted to them in your garden, you’d do as Parkinson did and dig up wild ones (Fragaria vesca) for replanting at home.

Modern strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) are a successful cross made in Europe in the mid-1750s between two New World species, from Chile and Virginia.

For Parkinson, strawberry fruits were taken to cool the liver, blood and spleen, to assuage a hot, choleric stomach and to quench the thirst. We would say strawberry is diuretic, laxative, detoxicant and nutritive.

Parkinson also used strawberry juice to wash ‘foule ulcers’ and hot, inflamed eyes. This idea has passed out of use but strawberry juice will make a modern treatment for sunburn and even for removing tartar from the teeth.

The main virtue of the plant for him was in the leaves, often taken as a tea. The slight astringency means this is a good remedy for diarrhoea and the bitterness acts as a tonic and appetiser.

Even modern strawberries deserve a second look for their capacity to be more than a sweet taste. And if you can encourage the wild ones into your garden you’ll not regret it.

Now I am not going to talk about the cultivated strawberry, selected, sterilised, manipulated, de-natured, stuffed up with chemical fertilisers and insecticides … and that has no flavour to it except a vague sort of sweetness. … [The wild strawberry, by contrast] is sweet and delicious, a blood-red jewel in the enchanted woodlands in the lovely month of May.
– Maurice Mességué, The Health Secrets of Plants and Herbs (1979)

Doubtless God may have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
– attributed to Dr William Butler, physician to King James I and a contemporary of Parkinson’s