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Gaultheria shallon

gaultheria shallon, gaultheria shallon 1 gallon pot
Gaultheria shallon is a leathery-leaved shrub in the heather family Ericaceae, native to western North America In English, it is known as salal, shallon, or simply gaultheria in Britain


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Ecology
  • 3 Edibility
  • 4 Europe
  • 5 Canada
  • 6 Etymology
  • 7 Medicinal properties
  • 8 Economic use
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links


The finely and sharply serrate leaves are shiny and dark green above

G shallon is 02 to 5 m 066 to 1640 ft tall, sprawling to erect Evergreen, its thick, tough, egg-shaped leaves are shiny and dark green on the upper surface, and rough and lighter green on the lower Each finely and sharply serrate leaf is 5 to 10 cm 20 to 39 in long The inflorescence consists of a bracteate raceme, one-sided, with five to 15 flowers at the ends of branches Each flower is composed of a deeply five-parted, glandular-haired calyx and an urn-shaped pink to white, glandular to hairy, five-lobed corolla, 7 to 10 mm 028 to 039 in long The reddish to blue, rough-surfaced, hairy, nearly spherical fruit is 6 to 10 mm 024 to 039 in in diameter1


G shallon is tolerant of both sunny and shady conditions at low to moderate elevations It is a common coniferous forest understory species and may dominate large areas with its spreading rhizomes In coastal areas, it may form dense, nearly impenetrable thickets It grows as far north as Baranof Island, Alaska1 Western poison oak is a common associate in the California Coast Ranges2


Ripe berries of the salal plant, G shallon

Its dark blue berries and young leaves are both edible and are efficient appetite suppressants, both with a unique flavor G shallon berries were a significant food resource for native people, who ate them fresh and dried them into cakes They were also used as a sweetener, and the Haida used them to thicken salmon eggs The leaves of the plant were also sometimes used to flavor fish soup1

More recently, G shallon berries are used locally in jams, preserves, and pies13 They are often combined with Oregon-grape because the tartness of the latter is partially masked by the mild sweetness of G shallon


G shallon was introduced to Britain in 1828 by David Douglas, who intended the plant to be used as an ornamental1 There, it is usually known as shallon, or, more commonly, gaultheria, and is believed to have been planted as cover for pheasants on shooting estatescitation needed It readily colonises heathland and acidic woodland habitats in southern England, often forming very tall and dense evergreen stands which smother other vegetation Although heathland managers widely regard it as a problem weed on unmanaged heathland, it is readily browsed by cattle especially in winter, so where traditional grazing management has been restored, the dense stands become broken up and the plant becomes a more scattered component of the heathland vegetation


Used for thousands of years by First Nations, the primary non-Aboriginal use in Canada in the 20th century has been as a source of florist greenery, and more recently as a ground cover in landscaping


Both salal and shallon are presumed to be of Native American origin: the former from Chinook Jargon sallal,4 and the latter from a native word whose pronunciation was recorded by Lewis and Clark as shelwel, shellwell5 The genus Gaultheria was named by Pehr Kalm for his guide in Canada, fellow botanist Jean-François Gaultier6

Medicinal propertiesedit

G shallon has been used for its medicinal properties by local natives for generations The medicinal uses of this plant are not widely known or used However, the leaves have an astringent effect, making it an effective anti-inflammatory and anticramping herb By preparing the leaves in a tea or tincture, one can take the herb safely to decrease internal inflammation such as bladder inflammation, stomach or duodenal ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, sinus inflammation, diarrhea, moderate fever, inflamed / irritated throat, and menstrual cramps A poultice of the leaf can be used externally to ease discomfort from insect bites and stings7

Economic useedit

In the Pacific Northwest, the harvesting of G shallon is the heart of a large industry which supplies cut evergreens worldwide for use in floral arrangements It is used in native plant gardens


  1. ^ a b c d e Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon, ed 2004 Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast Revised ed Vancouver: Lone Pine Publishing p 53 ISBN 978-1-55105-530-5 
  2. ^ CMichael Hogan 2008 Western poison-oak: Toxicodendron diversilobum, GlobalTwitcher, ed Nicklas Stromberg "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2009-07-21 Retrieved 2010-04-21 
  3. ^ Clarke, Charlotte Bringle 1978 Edible and Useful Plants of California University of California Press ISBN 978-0-520-03267-5 
  4. ^ salal, Oxford Dictionaries April 2010 Accessed 2 August 2012
  5. ^ shallon, Oxford English Dictionary Second edition, 1989; online version June 2012 Accessed 2 August 2012
  6. ^ Biography of Jean-François Gaultier, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 1741-1770 Volume III Accessed 2 August 2012
  7. ^ Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, illustrated by Mimi Kamp, published by Red Crane Books, Inc ISBN 1-878610-31-7

External linksedit

  • USDA Plant Profile – http://plantsusdagov/java/profilesymbol=GASH
  • "Gaultheria shallon" The Oregon Encyclopedia 

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