Salal Berry is an ornamental evergreen groundcover with beautiful bell-shaped blossoms and tasty blue-black fruits.
This native food can be eaten fresh or made into preserves. The berries are sweet and juicy when ripe with an excellent flavor and can be mashed into cakes and then dried and stored. The dark berries are loaded with antioxidants, flavinoids and vitamin C. Native American peoples, wild foragers, and sustainable gardeners have and continue to value this plant as food.
Salal is highly valued as an ornamental plant and its evergreen foliage is popular in bouquet arrangements. Because Salal is an evergreen and grows in a dense, compact habit it makes an excellent groundcover in almost any PNW landscape. The spring flowers are delicate bell shaped blossoms that range from white to pink, they contrast beautifully with the rougher foliage. They make an excellent evergreen groundcover that is not as invasive as blackberry and much friendlier to harvest berries from, edible groundcover!
Environment and Culture
Salal Berry can be found growing under conifer forest canopies from northern California up to Alaska. It thrives in damp, shady areas as well as on the edges of meadows. It grows well as an understory plant with the likes of the California Foothill Pine, Serviceberry, Oregon White Oak and more. In most PNW climates, Salal Berry is very hardy and does not need any attention beyond summer watering during its establishment.
In Southern climates, keep in mostly shade. In Northern climates, keep in mostly sun.
Northwest Native American tribes today still value this special tree as food, medicine, and family. Despite great cultural losses, they continue to work towards stewarding and restoring wild populations, both strengthening the integrity of the ecology and sustaining their cultural heritage and wisdom. These strong and recovering peoples and plants deserve our respect, gratitude, and reparations. (Learn more & how to help on our Charitable Giving page.)
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Salal Berry grows quickly and needs little attention after establishment. Harvest the berries after they ripen in the fall. They can be used just like blackberries: frozen, dried, or made into preserves and compotes. This plant is truly a unique northwest native, so take advantage of its easy-to-grow nature and one of a kind taste!
Native Range: CA, OR, WA, BC
USDA zones: 5-10
Ease of Care: Easy
Deer Resistance: Moderate
Light Requirements: Shade-Full Sun. For southern climates, keep in mostly shade. For northern climates, mostly sun.
Soil Type: Any
Water Requirements: Dry-Wet, does not need summer watering after establishment
Pollination: Self Fertile
Bearing Age: 2-3 Years
Size at Maturity: 3-6ft
Bloom Time: May-June
Harvest Time: September-October
Pot Sizing Guide