What happens if you eat the leaves of a strawberry?

Eating the leaves of a strawberry plant is generally not recommended. The leaves contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic to humans in large quantities. However, occasionally eating a few leaves is unlikely to cause any serious harm.

Can you eat strawberry leaves?

Technically, strawberry leaves are edible. However, they have a bitter taste and little nutritional value. The leaves also contain oxalic acid, which is found in many common plant foods like spinach, rhubarb, and beet greens. But oxalic acid can be toxic to humans when consumed in very high amounts.

The oxalic acid content is much higher in strawberry leaves compared to the berries themselves. Approximately 90% of the oxalates in the plant are concentrated in the leaves, while only about 10% are found in the berries that we normally eat.

This means eating a few strawberry leaves here and there is unlikely to pose any serious risks for most people. But ingesting large quantities of leaves could potentially cause illness.

Side effects of eating too many strawberry leaves

Eating too many strawberry leaves could potentially cause:

  • Digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • A burning sensation in the mouth and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Changes in heart rate

These effects occur because excess oxalic acid binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate crystals. Calcium oxalate has a needle-like structure that can irritate and damage the tissues in the digestive tract. It can also disrupt normal mineral balance and interfere with calcium absorption and utilization if large amounts are ingested.

In very high doses, oxalic acid and calcium oxalate may lead to kidney damage, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, coma, and even death. But this would only occur with extremely high intakes that are essentially impossible to achieve from eating strawberry leaves alone.

Groups at higher risk

Some people may need to be more cautious about consuming any part of strawberry plants:

  • Those who are prone to kidney stones – Oxalate can contribute to kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.
  • People with gout – Higher oxalate intake may increase uric acid and inflammation in those with gout.
  • Those with gastrointestinal disorders – Oxalate can aggravate sensitive digestive systems.
  • Individuals taking blood thinners – Oxalate may increase the action of certain blood thinners and raise the risk of bleeding.
  • Children – Their smaller body size means they’re affected by smaller absolute amounts of toxins.

Anyone with a known sensitivity or allergy to strawberries should also avoid the leaves.

Toxic dose

It’s nearly impossible to consume a toxic dose of oxalic acid from strawberry leaves alone. Estimates suggest it would take anywhere from 3 to 30 pounds of leaves to reach dangerous levels.

For example, one report indicated the leaves contain about 600-700 mg of oxalic acid per 100 grams of leaves. This means to reach the estimated lowest lethal dose of 3-6 grams of oxalic acid for humans, you would have to eat over 2 pounds of strawberry leaves.

The plant’s bitter taste and gastrointestinal side effects also limit how many leaves someone is realistically able to consume. So while exact toxic thresholds are unknown, accidentally eating a fatal amount is extremely unlikely.

Benefits of strawberry leaves?

Some sources claim strawberry leaves have benefits when consumed as a tea or herbal extract. However, there’s limited evidence to support these uses.

Potential benefits include:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Antiviral activity
  • Anticancer properties
  • Neuroprotective effects
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving diabetes symptoms

But most studies have been in animals or isolated cells. There’s little research on effects in humans, so the true health benefits are unknown. There also aren’t any standardized approved doses.

More research is needed to determine if strawberry leaves may be helpful for specific conditions when used carefully at appropriate doses.

Making strawberry leaf tea

Some people enjoy drinking strawberry leaf tea for its mild astringent taste. If you want to try strawberry leaf tea, here are some tips:

  • Pick young, fresh leaves and wash them thoroughly.
  • Use about 1 tablespoon of leaves per 1 cup (240ml) of hot water.
  • Let the leaves steep for 5–10 minutes before straining.
  • Sweeten with honey if desired and dilute with water if the flavor is too strong.
  • Start with 1 cup (240ml) per day and assess your tolerance.
  • Don’t drink excessively or daily long-term without talking to your healthcare provider.

Pregnant women should avoid strawberry leaf tea, since its effects have not been studied during pregnancy.

You can also blend strawberry leaves into smoothies. Use about 1–2 leaves per smoothie along with fruits and veggies to dilute the flavor.

Are wild strawberry leaves safe to eat?

There are multiple species of wild strawberries that grow in many parts of the world. Some types include:

Species Characteristics
Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry) Smaller berries, found in wooded areas in US and Europe
Fragaria viridis (green strawberry) Evergreen leaves, white flowers, found in mountainous regions
Fragaria chiloensis (beach strawberry) Native to Pacific coasts, larger and softer berries

These wild varieties all contain oxalic acid in their leaves just like standard garden strawberries. So the same general guidance applies:

  • Eating a few leaves raw or cooked is likely safe for most people.
  • Drinking small amounts of wild strawberry leaf tea should be fine when you’re first getting used to it.
  • Consuming large quantities of leaves, especially regularly over time, is not recommended.

It’s best to start with just 1–2 wild strawberry leaves at a time to assess your personal tolerance.

Foraging for wild strawberry leaves

Here are some tips if you want to forage for wild strawberry leaves to eat:

  • Ensure positive identification – Accurately identify the species so you know you’re getting true wild strawberries.
  • Harvest responsibly – Don’t overpick leaves from any one plant or area.
  • Avoid contamination – Don’t collect leaves near roadsides, trails, or anywhere potentially polluted.
  • Wash well – Rinse leaves thoroughly before eating.
  • Eat in moderation – Start with just a few leaves to gauge effects.
  • Watch for reactions – Stop if you experience any adverse effects like mouth irritation or digestive upset.

Cooking strawberry leaves

While strawberry leaves are most often used to make tea, you can also cook with them.

Some ways to use strawberry leaves in cooking include:

  • Chopping young leaves up finely and adding them to salads for extra texture.
  • Mixing a few older leaves into smoothies.
  • Steeping leaves into liquids like soups, broths, and sauces.
  • Dehydrating leaves to make into powder for supplements or seasoning blends.
  • Infusing leaves into oil or vinegar.

Cooking may help reduce some of leaves’ oxalic acid content. But avoid using excessive amounts, especially for individuals at higher risk.

Can dogs eat strawberry leaves?

It’s generally not recommended for dogs to intentionally eat strawberry leaves. The risks are lower compared to grapes or chocolate, but leaves may still potentially cause problems in dogs if they ingest enough.

Small amounts of leaves may simply cause some stomach upset. But eating a large quantity could irritate the digestive tract, block the intestines, or lead to more serious toxic effects.

Dogs that weigh 10 pounds or less may only need to eat a few leaves to cause issues. While a larger dog would need to eat a greater amount, it’s still best to avoid giving them access to strawberry leaves whenever possible.

Signs of a problem include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced urination

If your dog did ingest strawberry leaves, contact your vet right away if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Try to prevent dogs from eating strawberry leaves by fencing off gardens and removing any stray leaves from the ground. Monitor dogs when outside to keep them away from strawberry plants.

Can puppies eat strawberry leaves?

No, puppies should avoid eating strawberry leaves. Their small bodies make them more susceptible to toxicity from even a small amount of leaves.

Are wild strawberry leaves safe for dogs?

Wild strawberry leaves can also be unsafe for dogs, so you should avoid letting dogs eat wild strawberry leaves as well. Even though different wild species may vary slightly in their leaf oxalate content, they can still potentially cause poisoning in dogs if enough are consumed.


Eating a few strawberry leaves here and there is unlikely to cause issues for most people. But avoid making them a regular part of your diet.

Consuming cups of strawberry leaf tea or large amounts of leaves long-term may increase the risk of negative effects. Sensitivity can also vary drastically between individuals.

If trying strawberry leaves, start slowly with just 1-2 leaves at a time. And avoid giving them to dogs or pregnant women since potential risks are unknown.

The berries are still the safest part of the strawberry plant to eat. So if you want to avoid any concerns over toxicity, simply stick to enjoying the flavorful berries rather than the leaves.

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