salal; shallon; lemon leaf
edible fruit, ground cover, rock garden, part shade - sun
coastal, California to southern Alaska
This sturdy, broad-leaved evergreen shrub grows plentifully in the understory of Pacific Northwest forests. Will grow in sun, where it tends to remain at a height of about 1-2', or in shade, where it may grow to 5-6' in height under good conditions. Spreads by root suckers to form a colony; effective in preventing soil erosion. The handsome, leathery, textured leaves are dark green and glossy. Arching sprays of bright pink and white, urn-shaped flowers in late spring attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The abundant, edible, dark blue berries, which ripen in summer, appeal to birds and other wildlife, and may be eaten fresh or used to make preserves. The foliage is much used in florists arrangements as "lemon leaf". Considered rugged and adaptable, salal is said to thrive in sun or shade, and in infertile, dry or moist soils. Tolerates drought and even salt spray. The plants prefer a light, sandy, humusy, somewhat acidic soil. Makes a good low-maintenance ground cover in part shade. We confess to having little experience growing this plant under our conditions. Our original, normally reliable, source for these plants claims that this form of the plant is hardy to zone 5. Other references indicate that the typical form of the species is hardy only to zone 8. The plants we are offering should be hardy in zone 7, but should be considered experimental in zones 5 and 6. We recommend mulching the plants in all zones, and providing additional winter protection for the stems and leaves, at least for young plants, in zone 7 and colder zones.
cat # 3R7T