Strawberry Moon’s Origins Explained

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Why is the first full moon in June often called the strawberry moon? Where did the origins of that name come from? Tonight, the moon will be full, as it was last night, a so-called strawberry moon. However, that term does not come from how red the moon looks. Often, it looks a bit honey-colored, and is also called a “honey moon.”

The origins of the term strawberry moon have been traced back to Native Americans, like the Algonquins, who would know that wild strawberries would be growing ripe at this time of the year. The light of the full moon gave them light to see by to harvest the wild strawberries. Many home gardeners have also found that their strawberries will be getting ripe enough to eat around the time of the first full moon in June.

Besides the enjoyment that Native Americans derived from eating the sweet ripe red strawberries, they also used other parts, like the roots and the leaves of the strawberry plant for medical uses. Native Americans would also sometimes mix strawberries in with cornmeal and bake the batter into a delicious treat. Later on, colonists from Europe who tried out the concoction modified it and called the result “strawberry shortcake.”

The strawberry is an interesting, but rather oddly named, fruit. The name for the fruit is odd, in that the origins of the name have nothing to do with either “straw,” nor “berries,” as the fruit does not get its name from the straw that is sometimes strewn on the ground where they are planted and it is also not a berry, though it is often mistaken as being a berry.

Strawberries get the “straw” part of their name from people who, observing the tangled-up vines produced by the plant, thought that it looked as if the seeds the plant grows from were strewn all about. “Straw” was derived from the verb phrase “to strew.”

According to an article in the Newark Advocate on the origins of the term strawberry moon, the actual fruit of the strawberry plant is “contained in the small brown seeds” that are on the yummy and sweet-tasting red part, which is not technically a fruit, but is an “enlarged part of the flower stem.”

Strawberry plants can still be planted now, but it the plants do not already have developing strawberries on them, fruit will not grow on them until next spring rolls around. Compost is a big help when growing strawberries, and the crowns of the plants, the part which looks fat with leaves coming off of it, should be planted not very deeply, fairly close to the surface of the soil.

There are several varieties of strawberries, even white colored ones, that can be grown. The ones that only produce fruit in June, around the time of the first full moon are called “Junebearing.” Strawberry plants that grow fruit all season long are called “Everbearing” varieties. The Everbearing types are sometimes somewhat smaller than the Junebearing ones, but they make up for that in their abundance.

The origins of the term strawberry moon to refer to the first full moon of June can be traced back to Native Americans like the Algonquins who enjoyed eating the luscious strawberries, which they collected by the light of June’s first full moon. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is one other source that calls the first full moon of June a strawberry moon.

Written By Douglas Cobb

The Newark Advocate: Why is June called the Strawberry Moon?
USA Today: Why is June called the Strawberry Moon?
Examiner Enterprise: Berry full moon
Photo Courtesy Pacheco’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons 2.0

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