Gaultheria shallon Pursh
Ericaceae (Heath Family)
USDA Symbol: GASH
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall, often shorter.
Fruit: Purple, Red, Blue
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
DistributionUSA: AK , CA , OR , WA
Native Distribution: Coastal areas from Santa Barbara Co., CA to B.C.
Native Habitat: Coastal woods or brushy places below 2500 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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.
PropagationDescription: 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.
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Gaultheria shallon in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Gaultheria shallon in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Gaultheria shallon
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff