Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wild to Cultivated: A Strawberry’s Tale

The first field trip we took upon arriving to Castiglion Fiorentino, was a tour of a local winery that was approximately a thirty-minute walk outside of town. As an avid plant lover, I was eager to walk through the Tuscan countryside and see what types of plants thrived in Italy. I was not only impressed by the diversity of plants, but also by the amount of homeowners that had small gardens of their own in addition to the many cultivated fields we passed along the way. Some of the plants I saw included grapevines, olive trees, roses, cypress trees and maple trees, just to name a few.

Once we arrived to the winery, we milled around their small garden and discovered a variety of wild strawberries growing there. Strawberries are sprawling sun loving plants that like well drained soil. The strawberry blossoms are small, white, and have five petals. I was excited to see the wild strawberry plant because strawberries are my favorite fruit! However, I was surprised to see that with the wild variety, the size of the fruit is much smaller than those that are cultivated and sold.
I soon learned that the reason why the strawberries of the wild variety were significantly smaller was because of domestication and selection. Domestication is the process where a wild plant is converted into a crop that can be cultivated and managed. There are many advantages to domesticating and cultivating crops such as increased fruit, flowers and seeds, fuller leaves, and larger roots. By selecting these types of traits we find advantageous, we are able to successfully produce more favorable produce.

So far I have enjoyed every bit of my Italy study abroad experience. I am excited to continue experiencing and learning about the culture of this amazing country. Until next time, grazie and gig 'em!

-Lauren K

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