|Gaultheria shallon||Salal; Shallon|
Origin: Western N America
The genus Gaultheria is a member of the heather family; it has around 200 species of evergreen shrubs, around 20-30 of which are available to grow in gardens here.
Gaultheria shallon grows from 1-2 m tall. Its rough, leathery, mid- to dark green leaves are broadly-oval, sharply pointed, and rounded at the base; they are 3-9 cm long, 1-6 cm wide and finely serrated, each serration ending in a bristle tooth. The leaf-stalks, flower stems and bracts, and young branches are reddish and bristly.
Flowers are pendent, typically heather-bell shaped, pinkish-white. Flowering is May-June, each flower being produced in the angle of hooded bract, in racemes at the end of the previous year's growth and in the angles of terminal leaves, followed by bunches of dark purple berries.
The plant forms dense thickets, and spreads by underground stems.
This shrub is useful for ground cover in moist, shady peaty soils, and can be used as covert for game. It has hybridised with Pernettya mucronata, a plant from South America, to give X Gaulnettya wisleyensis, which has characteristics of habit, flowering and fruiting intermediate between the two parents; most often seen in cultivation as the variety 'Wisley Pearl'.
Introduced in 1826 by David Douglas.
The genus name Gaultheria is in honour of a French physician and botanist of Quebec, Jean François Gaultier (c.1708-1756); shallon derives from Kikwu-salu, the Chinook name for this plant.