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Gaultheria shallon is a shrub in the heather family (Ericaceae),which includes many woody-stemmed shrubs, like rhododendrons, azaleas and laurel. They are native to western North America and primarily found in the Pacific Northwest. It has green leather like, egg shaped, shiny leaves. In May it produces candy pink, vase shaped blossoms that turn white as they age. It produces a dark blue edble berry following the blossoms.
Gaultheria shallon is very often found in woodland areas, forest margins and beneath coastal evergreens. Salal plants enjoy shade but also are very tolerant of sun as well. The native Salal plant is found in coastal regions from southern California to northern British Columbia. Salal spreads primary by underground horizontal stems called rhizomes however they can spread by seed. Because of the vast rhizomes, salal can form vast colonies. Once established Salal becomes virtually indestructable and will often come back more aggressively even when burned or cut to the ground. Salal usually forms a dense thicket.
Salal berries were a common staple of Native peoples diet and are still in use today. The dark berries are sweet and are often dried or eaten fresh. They are commonly combined in dishes with the Oregon-grape which compliments the orgeon-grapes tartness. It is used to make cakes, soups, jams, jellies, pies and natural sweetners to beverages. The young leaves are also edible but function mainly as an appetite suppressant.
Gaultheria shallon has been used for its medicinal properties by local natives for generations. The medicinal uses of this plant include acting as an appetite suppressant, anti-cramping herb, anti-inflammatory and an astringent from insect and plant stings. Additional uses include relief from indigestion, colic, and diarrhea, for respiratory distress from colds or tuberculosis.
Gaultheria shallon is commonly harvested for the floral industry which uses them in floral arrangements throughout the world. It is also used in gardens or as hedging for landscaping purposes. Natives often used the berries for staining wood and artifacts.
Ballard, Heidi L., and Lynn Huntsinger. "Salal Harvester Local Ecological Knowledge, Harvest Practices and Understory Management on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington." Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal 34.4 (2006): 529-547. Environment Complete. EBSCO. Web. 7 Mar. 2011.
Cocksedge, Wendy, and Brian D. Titus. "Short-term response of salal (Gaultheria shallon Pursh) to commercial harvesting for floral greenery." Agroforestry Systems 68.2 (2006): 103-111. Biological Abstracts 1969 - Present. EBSCO. Web. 7 Mar. 2011.
Dee, S. "What is Salal?" http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-salal.htm.
Harrison, Brian. "Salal (Gaultheria shallon)." Northwest Coast Magazine. 13 Nov. 2008. http://www.nwcmagazine.com/2008/11/salal-gaultheria-shallon/
Wintergreen." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2010): 1. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 7 Mar. 2011.
Y. A. El-Kassaby, et al. "Population genetics of Gaultheria shallon in British Columbia and the implications for management using biocontrol." Canadian Journal of Botany 83.5 (2005): 501-509. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 7 Mar. 2011.
Pic 1. Oakley, J. 2011
Pic 2. Oakley, J. 2011
Pic 3. Oakley, J. 2011