Musk strawberries are not well known in North America. Their scientific name is Fragaria moschata. They are genetically different than alpines and garden hybrids. Under normal conditions, they will not cross with either alpines, garden hybrids or virginia strawberries because they are a different species.
One very important thing you need to know about this type of strawberry is that they are NOT self-pollinating. For best fruit set plant more than one variety.
You should also know that they are June Bearing types which means that they produce one crop per year. Here in zone 7 we get real late season blooms for a second crop but have not had a second crop yet. In warmer zones I would guess that you might get another crop. This surprises me since I thought they would need a cooling period to set flowers again.
I was first introduced musks about 20 years ago. It just so happens that a large strawberry nursery in Delaware (where I now live) was offering them. I had no clue what I would get when I ordered a few plants.
I will say that initially I was turned off by musks. The plants are VERY aggressive. They just took over an area. For this reason they make a good ground cover and will fill an area quickly. The plants are also taller than your “typical” strawberry. I have seen them 16″ tall and they can get taller if grown in shade. They do need full sun to produce well. They also have the same requirements as other strawberries in terms of nutrition though I have yet to over fertilize them for fear that they will spread even faster.
And, when it comes to taste, they are not ANYTHING like any strawberry you have every tasted. I was particularly attracted to the taste initially but now I LOVE them and can’t get enough – same for my wife. In fact, she MADE me plant a bed this past fall so we would have more. They seem to freeze well though you will need a pretty big patch to have enough left over to freeze.
Back to taste. The fruit is not pretty necessarily nore is it large. Here’s a photo:
It’s a bit of an art knowing when to harvest them as well. They are not necessarily all red when ripe. You learn as you go by picking and eating. If they are soft to the touch and release easy they are ready. As you can see from the photo, not all the caps came with the berries. Some caps come off and some don’t.
Musks are VERY fragrant. The air is just full of their aroma when some are ripe. Once you have associated the aroma with this fruit you will never forget.
The taste is another thing. It’s impossible for me to describe. I’m sure a chef could describe them. Last spring I took samples of alpines and musks to a chef in PA at an excellent restaurant in Fairhill called the Fairhill Inn. Both chefs happened to be there when I brought the samples. I’m sure they could try to describe them and probably have by now. They just kept trying more fruit and the looks on their faces were priceless.
I have described the taste as a combination of strawberry, raspberry and pineapple. That’s not accurate because there are other tastes there. You just have to try them and try to describe them yourself.
For spring 2010 we will not have as many plants available as we have in the past. A lot of this is due to our concentrating on alpines and getting more involved with virginia strawberries. We do carry 3 varieties. The standards are ‘Capron’ and ‘Profumata di Tortona’. We are the only grower in North America to our knowledge that carries a third. This third variety is from Eastern Europe and is named ‘Rosea’ or ‘Rozeya’.
We hope you’ll try this type of strawberry sometime. We’d love to hear your thoughts and how you describe the taste.