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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Gaultheria shallon (Salal)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Gaultheria shallon

Gaultheria shallon Pursh


Ericaceae (Heath Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

Salal is a dense, robust, thicket-forming subshrub or shrub, usually from 1-4 ft. high, with erect or spreading, intricately branched stems which can root when reclining. The large, leathery, evergreen leaves are round to oval in shape and dull green becoming reddish in winter. A shrub-like plant with spreading or erect, hairy stems, often in large dense patches. Whitish to pale pink, urn-shaped flowers hang along reddish or salmon racemes in upper leaf axils. Flowers are followed by dark-blue fruit.

The fruit is a source of food for wildlife and were once also eaten by coastal Native Americans, one group of whom, the Chinook, gave the plant its common name, Salal. The leaves are often used in flower arrangements.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall, often shorter.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Purple, Red, Blue

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AK , CA , OR , WA
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: Coastal areas from Santa Barbara Co., CA to B.C.
Native Habitat: Coastal woods or brushy places below 2500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist, peaty soil.
Conditions Comments: This plant must have summer fog or rain and shade. Direct summer sun causes scorch. This easy ground cover can become somewhat invasive.


Use Ornamental: Florists use the evergreen branches in arrangements.
Use Wildlife: The fruit is a source of food for many animals. Deer browse on new leaves and berries, used as winter browse by deer as well.
Use Food: A staple food of NW coastal First Nations. Can be eaten fresh, cooked and dried. Salal makes excellent jelly.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Larval host for brown elfin butterfly.


Description: The tiny seeds germinate well. Best sown on milled sphagnum moss. Seedlings are slow-growing. Vegetative propagation, using cuttings of new wood taken in late summer, is a faster source of new material. Can also be propagated by layering.
Seed Collection: Collect in late summer or fall.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Advice on planting Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa) in Vancouver, BC
October 26, 2007
I live in the Vancouver, BC - Pacific Northwest area and the front of our yard faces south to southwest. If I were to plant a tree other than an evergreen, would the Korean Dogwood thrive in this are...
view the full question and answer

Alternatives to non-native heather (Calluna vulgaris)
April 27, 2007
I live in Vernon, BC, Canada. I plan to put a heather plant in my garden, but my space is limited. I know that it will grow approx. 2 ft. high and that it likes well drained and acidic soil, but how...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Gaultheria shallon in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Gaultheria shallon in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Gaultheria shallon


Record Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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