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.
Download our new Husfarm App
Stay up to date with the current prieces of agricultural products all over the world.
Do you want to sell agricultural products? Are you an Agricultural processor looking for high-quality products to buy? Post an ad for FREE!