Salal – Gaultheria Shallon
At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. One of our favorites, this one has an incredible fruit!
Physical properties: Bushy perennial, 0.2-5 m tall (layering and suckering) – will grow into the space it has available.
Preferred conditions: Sunny edges of coniferous forests, rocky bluffs, to the seashore. Does not require watering once established. Winter hardy, just plant and forget till fruit is ready! Low to medium elevations.
Edibility: Berries are edible and delicious! Great for Jam, ripen in August
First Nation Uses: One of the most plentiful and important fruits for the northwest coast first nations people. Eaten both fresh and dried into cakes. The Kwakwaka’wakw ate the ripe berries dipped in oolichan grease at large feasts. For trading or selling, the salal berries were mixed with currants, elderberries, or unripe salal berries. The berries were also used to sweeten other foods and the Haida used salal berries to thicken salmon eggs. The young leaves were chewed as a hunger suppressant by the Ditidaht. The leafy branches were used in pit-cooking, and cooked as a flavouring in fish soup.