Salal bush vs salal ground cover

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Mir, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. Mir

    Mir Member

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    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    I live in east Vancouver, with a front and back yard, on a north-south lot.
    When I was young, a friend of ours on the Sunshine Coast had a thriving salal bush, in her north yard. I was a kid, but I' quite sure it was 3 or 4 feet tall. My sister knows of one in west van that she says is over 5 feet tall.
    I want to grow one for the berries - I want salal berries and I don't want to have to crawl on my hands and knees to pick them!
    I talked to Murray nursery months ago and they said they sometimes get them in, but now they have apparently gone out of business. Today I talked to a woman at another nursery (I won't name names) and she said the bush is exactly the same plant as the ground cover, only in fertile soil and left to grow.
    Frankly, I don't beleive her. I looked on the internet, but didn't have much success.
    Does anyone out there know whether there is a difference, and where I can get the kind that will grow into a bush??
    Thank you so much.
    -Miranda M.
     
  2. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

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    This is a case of nurture, not nature. Salal can grow as a moderately tall bush in some sites, and as a low groundcover in others. In either site, it will spread by underground rhizomes.
     
  3. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    The tallest ones I've seen are growing in great numbers on the West coast of Vancouver Island in beach areas. None really stand alone as individual specimen, rather in large groups, one nearly indistinguishable from the next. These are certainly 5 feet tall or more.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    A friend was tunneling his way through a rainy coastal site, thick with tall shrubs of various species and came across a rather stout, orangish, flaky trunk. Wondering to himself what a madrona was doing out there, he looked up to see it was a salal.
     
  5. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    And that's the only place I've ever seen them that tall too - the coast. At Oswald West State Park south of Cannon Beach, Oregon, the salal range from inches tall, up to 8' to 10'.

    In landscaped yards of the Portland suburbs, the tallest I've seen were about 3' to 4' tall - but in very established yards; maybe 20 year-old to 30 year-old plants.

    If you don't want to get on your knees for berries, salal might not be your first pick.

    Patch of blueberries maybe ??
     
  6. Mir

    Mir Member

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    Ahhh, but if you've ever had salal jelly...
    Worth waiting 20 years for I'd say!!
    The bush will be grown up just in time for my retirement and all that spare time I'm going to have!
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Salal thickets above the waist or taller not rare in local forests.

    "Salal reaches 3-8' tall." --Wild Plants of Greater Seattle
     
  8. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    If you plant them a bit thick, they will probably grow taller faster anyhow, because they will support themselves.

    If I was going to do it, I'd retain a path through the patch with cedar fence, cutting boards in half for a short fence, or some kind of net and stake to hold the twigs off the path. That way I could walk into the center without leaning or stomping through.
     
  9. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    I think it's largely an issue of access to light (which is why they're bigger near the beach & clearings) and probably soil quality or pH too.
    And, if you live in the Lower Mainland, you can always find salal on sale at Southlands Nursery, David Hunter, The Natural Gardener, UBC garden shop (in the west side) and PLENTY of larger nurseries further east (in Abbotsford, Surrey, Burnaby & even Richmond).

    Personally, I bought about a dozen pots last fall and have planted them in my front yard, with the intention of pruning them regularly & keeping them below ~3ft. But I've certainly seen plenty of GIANT plants along the coast, particularly on the gulf islands.

    ps: I'm in love with their berries too! :)
     
  10. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Seems odd really that Salal would be sold in garden centers there, as they're always popping up like weeds here.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Many ornamental native shrubs are sold in nurseries. In fact, there is a vogue for natives. They also get used in large quantities on public projects.
     
  12. Yvonne88

    Yvonne88 Member

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    We live in Rockaway Beach, Oregon and the salal bush thrives in our coastal climate.
    We have salal that has grown over 5 feet tall where the soil is on the damp side and alder trees grow nearby. I've heard the alder roots promote healthy soil. The south side of our yard, where it gets more sun has salal 2-3 feet high.
    So i would agree that it is the same bush, but depending on the growing conditions, will grow quite tall.
     
  13. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Someone revived an old thread.

    Not sure why it did not come to mind first time I read this back yonder. But Wintergreen is a Gaultheria, and maybe that's the groundcover the nursery person meant.

    Same genus, different habit.
     

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