• Salal
  • Salal
  • Salal


(Gaultheria shallon)

Type: Evergreen
Maximum height: 10' (typically 5')
Flower color: White
Habitat: partial shade to partial sun
Edible: yes
Toxic: No or unknown
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Also called Wintergreen or Lemon Leaf, Salal is an evergreen shrub, growing up to 10' tall. It is tolerant of salt spray, and grows in a wide variety of locations and conditions. It will grow back from the roots after minor fires.  Though aggressive, it will not grow everywhere.  It grows best at lower elevations, west of the cascades, undisturbed, and not in water-logged soil.  Best kept away from streets, driveways, dryer exhaust vents, and full sun.
The leaves are food for deer and elk. The black berries are edible, but fairly bland.

It spreads primarily by rizome, and can eventually form very thick hedges or stands. It can be aggressive and invade surrounding areas, being hard to control.  Not recommended next to lawns or flower beds.  Controlling it with herbicide is not recommended, since a thicket of salal is likely a single massive plant connected by rizomes; applying herbicide to part of it may kill all of it.

Salal can be grown in pots/planters, which is the easiest way to control its spread.  However, such pots should be set on an impermeable surface such as a paved patio or else the roots may grow through the drainage holes into the ground beneath, and thus spread outside of the pot.  When grown in a planter, the plant can fill it within a single growing season, forming a thick hedge-like form and quickly becoming root-bound.  Therefore, it is recommended that the plant be removed every year or two and cut back to about 1/3 of its size and then repotted.  Otherwise, the plant will need constant watering and application of fertilizer.  Be careful with disposing of the removed plant material - placing it in a compost pile may cause it to take root there.  In containers, the height will be limited - probably no higher than the container is deep.  Note that it will not grow as high in full sun, and may require more water.  All container plants should be watered regularly.

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