Salal, Vancouver Island, BC
Salal, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

The Pacific Northwest Salal plant can be upright or ground crawling and grows from 0.2 to 5 meters in height. Its growth can be sparse or form a dense barrier almost impossible to penetrate. It spreads by suckering layer upon layer and is the most dominant shrub in the coastal forest area. It grows from sea level to mid-elevations. It is found in coniferous coastal forests all over the BC coast.

The berries are black, reddish-blue, or dark purple and are about 6 to 10 mm around and somewhat hairy to the touch. The strong, flexible branches and stems of the plant are well-designed to withstand the wet heavy snows, they tend to bend instead of breaking. Its berries have long been a major food source for BC’s native peoples and settlers learned to make jams and jellies from them.

There is a fairly big business in gathering the branches to be used in floral arrangements and quite a few people make a living doing just that.

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