Salal or gaultheria shallon is a shrub with shiny forest green oval shaped leaves and develop purplish blue edible berries that develop from tiny bell shaped white blooms. Perhaps you have seen these leaves in flower arrangements that you have received? Not only is this plant a staple in floral design but has been used by for thousands of years the by the indigenous people of Canada.
These shrubs have become popular in recent years as ground covers in landscaping and you may have also notice them in the gardens around local cities. As you walk hiking trails in our area you will likely also see them as the understory in the forest growing beneath the coniferous trees. Moving towards the west coast these plants become larger and more dense, especially in places like Tofino and other costal areas in British Columbia.
We recently planted salal in the garden to populate the yard with native species and use in our flower arrangements. We chose a very shady location with a watering system and wooden landscape ties to create a barrier to contain the plants.
In the summer (July to August) the shrubs may produce berries that can be made into edible items such as jams and jellies. We will have to share the recipes with our readers!
Writer and Photo Credit: Adele HInkley