Salal

Gaultheria shallon

Photo: Nancy Turner

Salal

APPEARANCE

Salal has evergreen, shiny, dark green leaves with bell-shaped white flowers and dark bluish/purple fruit. It grows from 0.5 to 2 metres in height.

RANGE & HABITAT

It is the most common shrub in the B.C. coastal area, growing in coniferous coastal forests and into southeastern B.C. This plant grows in the Coast and Mountains and Georgia Depression ecoprovinces of B.C.

LIFE CYCLE

Salal is an evergreen; it keeps its beautiful green leaves all year round. It spreads by underground stems and roots. In the summer pinkish blossoms appear and in the fall the plant produces large dark red to dark purple berries.

ANIMAL USES

Deer and elk eat the twigs and birds and other animals including bears eat the branches and berries. Salal cover provides shelter for small animals and is a place of rest and bedding for elk and deer.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Salal berries are a major source of food for B.C. First Nations; they can be dried and also turned into cakes. Fruit leathers can be made by blending the berries until smooth and then spreading them flat in a pan and drying them in the sun or an oven. Berries can also be used to create a dark blue or purple dye. The branches and leaves of salal are used to line cooking pits and provide flavour. Leaves are used to cover cuts and wounds.

MODERN USES

Branches are used in floral arrangements.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.bcadventure.com

Photo: James Gaither