Salal a BC Native Edible Evergreen for Shade and Sun

The consistent evergreen leaves of salal

Where I grew up(rural Vancouver Island) salal grew everywhere like a weed, I was so surprised when I moved to the city to see florists actually selling bouquets of salal! to me it was like selling a bouquet of dandelions! I have since, learned to appreciate the finer points of this versatile plant. Salal grows in shade or sun, it does notably better in wet conditions but is somewhat drought tolerant.

This is not my 3’ tall salal hedge and weathered cedar bench but I wish it was

Salal’s elliptical evergreen leaves have a harmonious uniform quality to them that seems to fit with any garden style. Several years ago I started about 10 salal seedlings as a border along the east side of my porch they  have not really done much, still about the same size as when I planted them and they have never produced berries yet.  I had read so many stories on line of invasive salal but so far that has not been my personal experience.  I was first attracted to salal because it is native to BC, in all honesty the fact that salal produces edible berries was more of an afterthought, and I will admit to growing up surrounded by acres of salal forests and never trying a single berry, although I do intend to once my plants produce. In nature salal tends to sprawl out at the edges of clearing. In the city Salal fits in easily as a evergreen border or loose hedge. The rain forest I grew up in bred salal plants that were huge 6’ mounds but I haven’t seen anything like that in the city, unlike invasive blackberry that seems to leap out of every scrap of unmaintained dirt in the Vancouver area city or country.  I have noticed more and more salal is being incorporated into modern plantings in our cityscape and perhaps appropriately so since it was probably growing there before we planted our city over it.

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2 Responses to Salal a BC Native Edible Evergreen for Shade and Sun

  1. ranana says:

    how would you transition from the native salal to vegetable or berry garden? I think critters are digging the natural landscape and some varmint is hanging in my salal then munching on my spinach. would Nets solve this?

    • I have been lucky that not too many unwanted animal guests come into my garden, aside crows I have only seen skunks and racoons out there a couple times, I do see people around the neighbourhood using home made mesh/chichen wire cages and nets over their berry patchs. My salal is still quite small but I mixed it in with the aspargus patch to try and fill in the blanks during the part of the year aspargus is dormant. A couple years ago I did have trouble with some kind of insects(or somthing) nibbling my perennial spinach when it was planted close to the salal so I moved the spinach patch about 4 feet away to another section of the garden, have not had any nibbling issues with the salal/asparagus combo and the spinach is being left along in its new location. Maybe try plant somthing else between the spinach and salal like chives/perennial onions/garlic? most critters don’t like the onion family.

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