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Gaultheria shallon

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Bogs, gardens, heathland, riverbanks, scrub, seaside, waterside, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Small pale pink to white clusters of bell-shaped flowers.
Purplish-black berries. 1cm in diameter.
An evergreen shrub. Dark green, oval and leathery leaves, up to 4 inches long. The simple leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. Serrated leaf margins.
Other Names:
Checkerberry, Gaultheria, Lemon Leaf, Oregon Wintergreen, Salal, Salal Berry.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Gaultheria shallon, commonly known as salal, is a species of evergreen shrub native to the west coast of North America. It is found in coastal forests and along streambanks, from southern Alaska to northern California. The shrub can reach a height of up to 2 meters and has leathery, dark green leaves. It produces small, bell-shaped, pink or white flowers in the spring and summer, followed by dark blue berries that are popular with wildlife. The berries are edible for human and are used for making jelly, jams, and wine. The leaves can also be used for tea. The plant is popular for landscaping and for use in erosion control projects.


Gaultheria shallon, commonly known as Shallon or Salal, is a small evergreen shrub that is native to the west coast of North America, from British Columbia to California. It is a member of the Ericaceae family, which also includes blueberries, cranberries, and heathers.

Shallon grows up to 6 feet tall, with a dense growth habit and glossy green leaves that are thick and leathery. The leaves have a serrated edge and are about 2 to 4 inches long. The plant produces clusters of pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers in the spring, which are followed by dark blue-black berries that are edible but somewhat insipid in taste.

Shallon is a highly adaptable plant that is found in a variety of habitats, from coastal forests to mountain slopes. It prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate both sun and shade. It is also highly drought tolerant and can withstand moderate amounts of salt spray.

One of the most interesting features of shallon is its cultural significance to the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. The plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine and as a food source. The leaves were used to make a tea to treat colds, coughs, and sore throats, while the berries were eaten fresh or dried for later use. The leaves were also used for weaving baskets and hats.

Today, shallon is still used in a variety of ways. The leaves and berries are used in the production of herbal teas and natural remedies. They are also used as a flavoring in some foods and beverages, such as jams and juices. Additionally, the plant is cultivated for its ornamental value, as it makes an attractive ground cover or border plant in gardens and landscaping.

While shallon is a versatile and useful plant, it is important to note that it can be invasive in some areas, particularly in disturbed or degraded ecosystems. As with any plant, it is important to research the best practices for cultivation and management before introducing it to a new environment.

Gaultheria shallon is a fascinating and useful plant with a rich cultural history. Its adaptability and resilience make it a valuable addition to many gardens and landscapes, while its traditional uses continue to be appreciated by many today.

Shallon has a number of interesting and useful properties that have been studied in recent years. For example, the plant contains a variety of compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may have potential health benefits. Studies have suggested that shallon leaf extract may be effective in reducing inflammation and pain, and may also have antimicrobial properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, shallon has been used for a variety of other purposes throughout history. The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest used the plant for making ceremonial garlands, as well as for dyeing basketry materials. The leaves were also used as a substitute for tobacco, and were smoked in ceremonial contexts.

Shallon has also been used in the production of cosmetics and personal care products. The leaves and berries contain a variety of compounds that have been shown to have skin-soothing and anti-aging properties. For example, shallon leaf extract has been found to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while the berries contain compounds that may help to protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation.

Gaultheria shallon is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich cultural and medicinal history. Its adaptability and usefulness have ensured that it remains an important part of the ecosystem and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Whether enjoyed for its ornamental value, used in natural remedies, or appreciated for its traditional cultural significance, shallon is a plant that deserves recognition and respect.

Shallon also has some ecological importance, particularly in the coastal regions where it is native. The plant provides habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including birds, small mammals, and insects. The dense growth habit of the plant also helps to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it an important part of the coastal ecosystem.

However, it is important to note that shallon can become invasive in some areas, particularly in disturbed or degraded ecosystems. When grown outside of its native range, it can outcompete other native plants and disrupt the local ecosystem. For this reason, it is important to only grow shallon in appropriate locations and to take care to prevent its spread to other areas.

Despite its potential to become invasive, shallon is still widely cultivated for its ornamental value. Its glossy green leaves and colorful berries make it an attractive addition to gardens and landscaping, particularly in coastal regions or areas with a Pacific Northwest aesthetic.

Overall, Gaultheria shallon is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich history and many potential uses. Whether appreciated for its cultural significance, medicinal properties, or ornamental value, shallon is a plant that deserves recognition and respect. By learning more about this plant and taking care to use it responsibly, we can ensure that it continues to be an important part of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem and culture for generations to come.


Video 1: Shallon filmed in Rivington, Lancashire on the 18th June 2022.


Video 2: More Shallon, this time I caught a Roe Deer on camera.

Video 3: Shallon (in fruit) filmed at Rivington, Lancashire on the 21st August 2022.


Music credits
Achilles - Strings by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

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