Strawberry is the common name for a large genus of flowering plants in the rose family. While there are dozens of species of strawberry, they all lie in the genus Fragaria, with the most common species being the Garden Strawberry -- a hybrid of Fragaria x ananassa. Strawberries grow just about everywhere the climate is temperate, and are an important commercially grown fruit.
Strawberries have been eaten for thousands of years. At first, wild strawberries were foraged, but the ancient Persians cultivated the fruit and spread it into Asia and Europe.
The name strawberry itself is a bit of a misnomer. Strawberries are not true berries, they're aggregate accessory fruits. What are commonly called seeds are really fruits, each containing a single seed. The fleshy red part of the strawberry is not formed from the plant ovary.
Strawberries can be grouped based on what multiple of seven chromosomes they contain. Garden strawberries are octoploid, with 56 chromosomes. Fragaria vesca, the Woodland Strawberry, is diploid, containing 14 chromosomes. The Musk Strawberry (Fragaria moschata) is hexaploid, with 42. Typically, higher sets of chromosomes lead to bigger plants with more and larger fruit.
Modern strawberry cultivars are more concerned about size of fruit, ability to be packed and shipped, and disease resistance than aroma and flavor. Most of the aroma of the strawberry comes from methyl anthranilate, which has a musky-sweet aroma also found in Concord grapes, jasmine, and the musk of foxes. In Europe, people still pick wild (woodland) strawberries, which are tiny and have an amazing aroma. Musk strawberries smell and taste like a combination of raspberry, pineapple and strawberry, and are grown by strawbery enthusiasts.
Strawberries start out green and progress in color to white, pale red, and finally deep red when they're ripe. Some cultivars do not produce red pigment, and are ripe when they're yellow.
In cocktails, strawberries are typically infused into a base spirit or muddled. They lend a beautiful color and fragrance to summery drinks.