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Black Strawberry: Science, or Fake Fruit?

A painted black strawberry next to a traditional red strawberry.

Black Strawberry: Science, or Fake Fruit?

“This is the most delicious fruit you’ve ever tasted.” Have you seen this (or something like it) in an online product listing for black strawberry seeds?

If so, don’t be fooled: It’s so good, it doesn’t exist. While they certainly look intriguing, let’s debunk some black strawberry myths.

Is There Such a Thing as a Black Strawberry?

No, there are no actual black strawberries on the market. It turns out that these so-called “black strawberries” for sale online are just skillfully photoshopped to make them look jet-black. The darkest strawberry is actually a deep purple, not black, and online sellers of black strawberries are selling a scam product with fake photos.

For an example, this black strawberry looks pretty amazing, right?

A red strawberry painted black.

But look at what you find when you cut it open:

A painted black strawberry cut open to show a red interior.

This is nothing more than a regular red strawberry that we covered in primer and black spray paint. We did this just to show you how easy it is to make a “black strawberry” look real. So don’t be too quick to fall for those lovely photos you see online!

The worst of all this scammy behavior is that unsuspecting buyers won’t know for months or even a couple of years that they’ve bought a fake product. Strawberries as a group are notoriously difficult and time-consuming to start from seed, and even legit strawberry seeds may not produce a crop until the year after you plant them.

Because of this, these scammers make their money and flee the scene of the crime well before you have any idea you were sold a bill of goods.

Real Colors of Strawberries

Even though black strawberries are nothing but a well-crafted scam, you actually do have several choices when it comes to strawberry colors:

  • Purple
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Red

Let’s take a look at each one.

NOTE: Each of the Etsy shops we’ve listed here are legitimate sellers with excellent reputations and lots of happy customers. If you see a unique color here that you want to try, you don’t need to fear getting scammed!

Purple Strawberries

Purple strawberries have a deeper color than their traditional red counterparts, and they’re the closest you’ll ever get to a black strawberry.

They tend to develop that lovely coloring all the way through the fruit, with a vibrant, very sweet flavor. “Purple Wonder” is the only purple variety currently on the market.

Yellow Strawberries

A pile of bright yellow strawberries.
Seedelite via Etsy

Yellow strawberries taste as good as red ones, and their fruits are often about the same size as common red varieties, or just a but smaller.

“Yellow Wonder” is a popular yellow variety, especially in Europe.

White Strawberries

White strawberries can have red seeds or familiar-looking yellowish ones, much like red strawberries.

“White Soul” (pictured above) and “Pineberry” are the two white strawberry types you’ll most likely see.

Red Strawberries

And of course, red strawberries are the ones we all know and love.

At almost any big box store, garden center or online, it’s easy to find red strawberries in a wide array of varieties. Some varieties produce huge berries and others yielding smaller ones. You can choose between ever-bearing or June-bearing types, which dictate how long the fruiting season lasts.

No matter what the local climate, soil conditions or other factors you have to work with, you should be able to find a red strawberry variety that will grow well for you.

Not only are they pretty to look at and tasty, a research study published in Nutrition Reviews showed that strawberries are also a good source of several nutrients, including these:

  • Polyphenols
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Fiber

This same study also recommends strawberries and other types of berries as an important part of a heart-healthy diet. So feel free to eat strawberries often, in all their many (legitimate!) colors.

How to Spot a Seed-Selling Scam

A red strawberry half painted black with a paintbrush and paint splotches nearby.

Most of the time, online sellers are responsible for the fake seed scams out there.

E-bay is the most common site for these scams to take place on, but I’ve also seen them on Amazon and Etsy.

The bad part is, on each of these platforms, there are also plenty of reputable sellers offering great-quality seeds, and it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.

But there are a couple of clues that you can look for:

  • The seller displays an extremely limited selection of products (maybe even just black strawberry seeds) instead of a full inventory of items for purchase.
  • They’re selling something you’ve never heard of before. This doesn’t always indicate a scam, as there are new plant varieties coming out every year. But it’s well worth your time to research something new before impulsively buying the seeds.
  • Reviews and number of sales. This one’s pretty obvious, but it’s often your very first indicator that others have fallen for the scam before you, so heed their warning.

Internet scams are indeed possible, but don’t let a few unscrupulous scammers stop you from buying seeds online! That’s almost always the best way (and for most of us, the only way) to discover and purchase new plant varieties.

Buying from small-scale sellers on Ebay, Amazon and Etsy is a risk, but there are also legitimate sellers on each of these platforms. Be sure to research the seller’s shop before you buy, looking at customer reviews and number of sales in the past. In particular, you may want to think twice before buying any expensive seeds.

Also, keep in mind that there are tons of reputable seed companies online, and those that offer heirloom seeds usually have the best selection of unusual varieties that are hard or impossible to find elsewhere.

My favorite places to buy seeds online are Botanical Interests and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Many other gardeners also like to order from Burpee and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

And you won’t see a single fake black strawberry listing from these quality sellers- guaranteed!

Final Thoughts

So don’t be fooled by fake black strawberry photos in online advertisements. That’s nothing but some fancy computer enhancements. But if you’re looking to expand beyond the traditional red strawberry, the yellow, white or purple strawberry varieties out there are the real thing.

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