Gaultheria shallon

Photograph by Keith Lazelle

A great evergreen shrub that can be found all over the ground of native forests in the Pacific Northwest, salal can tolerate a range of conditions, from upland forests to wetter lowlands and prairie meadows.  As one of the best-known evergreen shrubs west of the Cascades, salal is often found under the dry shade of taller conifers.  The shrub can vary in height, depending on the habitat, ranging from only 20 inches to 10 feet or more.

While salal is slow to establish, it can be useful in controlling erosion, and can be a worthwhile addition to many types of gardens.  Salal produces small, downward-pointing whitish flowers that give way to round, dark purple berries. The leaves of the plant are ovate and finely toothed with a thick, leathery feel.  The nectar found in the flowers attracts butterflies, the foliage feeds larvae, and salal berries are also edible.  A recipe for salal berry jam can be found here.

View the Salal native plant ID card from WNPS.

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