gaultheria

Our native Salal is so common and adaptable to our region that it tends to be overlooked if not totally ignored by the gardener; but it definitely deserves a second look. It is a lush shrub, growing typically 3-6 feet tall, forming thickets (good bird habitat) in shade or partial shade.

 gaultheria

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

The leaves are somewhat large (2-4” long x 1-3” wide), with an almost reptilian texture of the richest green hue. The flowers, that are abundant in spring and early summer, are clusters of drooping bell-shaped white-to-pinkish flowers, delicate and lovely in contrast to the tougher-looking foliage.

The blue-black berries that follow were at one time a staple food of the native people of this region, and can be a tasty berry to make into jelly or jam. Or, simply left in place to provide food for visiting birds to your garden. As an evergreen, it provides color and texture to the winter garden, and year-round is relatively pest and disease free.

Salal grows best in partial shade, but is perfectly adaptable to a more open, south-facing sunny location as long as it has good drainage and a dampish root run; but because it can form a thicket it can become invasive.

 gaultheria

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Nevertheless, it is perfectly suited to a small garden if kept in check. For a thick ground cover, it is a much better choice than some more invasive and destructive non-natives. Easy to care for, once established, it can be a treasured foundation of the garden.