Salal Berries, BC Coastal Region
The pacific northwest salal plant can be upright or ground crawling, and grows up to 5 meters in height. Salal growth can be sparse or form a dense barrier almost impossible to penetrate. Salal spreads by suckering layer upon layer and is the most dominant shrub in the BC coastal forest area. The berries are black, reddish blue or dark purple and are up to 10 mm around and somewhat hairy to the touch.
Salal grows from sea level to mid elevations. Salal is found in coniferous coastal forests all over the coast as well as the outer islands. The strong, flexible branches and stems of the salal plant are well designed to withstand the wet heavy snows, they tend to bend instead of breaking.
Salal berries have long been a major food source for BC’s native peoples and settlers learned to make jams and jellies from them. I like to just pick and eat them while on a hike. There is a fairly big business in gathering salal branches to be used in floral arrangements and quite a few people make a living doing just that.