Salal The Gaultheria shallon is an evergreen shrub in the heather family (Ericaceae) The salal is one of several species in the genus Gaultheria that resemble true wintergreen (G. procumbens), and can be used as a substitute for it in wintergreen candy; the two plants have little in common, however. The salal's small, leathery leaves are arranged spirally on the stem and are thick and shiny on top with a lighter green underside. The stems of the plant bear numerous sharp, prickly straight hairs.
The clusters of bell-shaped white flowers are arranged in a dense terminal spike at the tips of the branches with many smaller spikes throughout. The flower's corolla is divided into five thin, pointed lobes about 5 millimeters long. The plants are dioecious, having separate male and female plants. The fruit is a round berry 5 to 7 millimeters wide which ripens in the fall and remains on the plant into winter.
The Gaultheria shallon can be found growing along shorelines where its seeds may drift to new locations by the waves and tides and it usually occurs as an understory plant in coastal forests.
The Gaultheria shallon has a very similar genetic structure and within the same population, there may exist various distinct phenotypic forms, some of which have been recognized as different 'subspecies or varieties. The salal is found on many scattered sites from southern Alaska to Santa Cruz County, California, being most abundant in the Puget Sound area, throughout much of Canada and the Alaska Panhandle.
The Gaultheria shallon can be found growing in moist woods and on stream banks, particularly along the seacoast of British Columbia. The thick leathery leaves are arranged spirally on the stem. Many sharp prickly straight hairs run along the stems of the plant. They range from green to purplish or yellow-green. The small white five-petaled flowers are grouped in branched clusters that grow at the ends of branches or just below them. They bear a resemblance to tiny trailing violets (Viola). The fruit of G. shallon is an edible, dark blueberry about the size of a pea. It has no particular flavor but is slightly sweet.
Global salal production
Salal (Gaultheria shallon) is a low-growing shrub native to the west coast of North America. It is common in the Pacific Northwest, where it grows in the moist forest understory. Salal is an important commercial plant, with global production estimated at about 10,000 tonnes annually. The berries are used in a variety of food products, and the leaves are used for decoration or as a wrapping material. Salal is also grown as an ornamental plant.
Salal is a low-growing shrub that typically reaches heights of 1-2 m (3-6 ft). The leaves are elliptical in shape and measure 5-12 cm (2-4.5 in) long and 3-6 cm (1-2.5 in) wide. The leaf margins are serrated, and the upper surface is dark green in color while the lower surface is paler. The flowers are white or pale pink, and they grow in clusters of 3-20. The fruit is a dark blue berry that measures 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) in diameter.
Salal is native to the west coast of North America, where it grows in the moist forest understory. It is common in the Pacific Northwest, where it is often found growing in the shade of coniferous trees such as Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). Salal is also found in coastal areas further south, including California and British Columbia.
Salal is an important commercial plant, with global production estimated at about 10,000 tonnes annually. The berries are used in a variety of food products, including jams, jellies, and pies. The leaves are used for decoration or as a wrapping material. Salal is also grown as an ornamental plant.