salal flowers

Gaultheria shallon

Salal is a creeping to erect shrub that can be 20 cm to 5 m tall. It has hairy branched stems that arch and can root at nodes and spread. The leaves are evergreen, thick and leathery, shiny, oval, 5-10 cm long, and finely toothed. The flowers are white to pink pendent bells borne singly along the axis of the stem tip. The fruits are purple to black (false) berries, 6-10 mm wide, edible and often sweet. Salal is one of the most common understory shrubs in western Washington at low to medium elevations; it can almost form a monoculture in some areas. Most commonly, salal grows in rather dry coniferous forest, but it can also occur in some wet to boggy coniferous forests.