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Strawberries have a history that goes back over 2,200 years. Strawberries grew wild in Italy as long ago as 234 B.C. and were discovered in Virginia by the first Europeans when their ships landed there in 1588.

Early settlers in Massachusetts enjoyed eating strawberries grown by local American Indians who cultivated strawberries as early as 1643. After 1860 strawberries were widely grown in many parts of the country.

Strawberries have been grown in California since the early 1900’s. Today, over 25,000 acres of strawberries are planted each year in California and the state produces over 80% of the strawberries grown in the United States. On average, each acre produces about 21 tons of strawberries and the state produces one billion pounds of strawberries a year!

How Strawberries Got Their Name

There are many explanations, some believe that the name came from the practice of placing straw around the growing plants for protection, others believe the name originated over 1000 years ago because of the runners which spread outward from the plant. The name may have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon verb to strew (spread) and the fruit came to be known as streabergen, straberry, streberie, straibery, straubery, and finally, "STRAWBERRY’ to the English.

For a more detailed study of the history of this magnificent fruit, look for "History of the Strawberry, From Ancient Gardens to Modern Markets" by Stephan Wilhelm and James E. Sagen, originally published by the University of California Regents Press, Berkeley, California, but now out of print.

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