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Fragments from Floyd

Olympic Trip: Botanicals ~ 1

Blueberry relative, Pacific NW "salal" has many uses

Whirlwind tourism and botanizing do not mix well–about the same as tourism and meaningful photographic indulgences in the particulars of a place for mere seconds per view.

So, while I came home with a half dozen flowering plant, fern, moss and lichen images, they were all UNKs–unknowns likely to stay that way, in the absence of any field guides from that part of the world. So thanks, former Seattle native, Sean, for spotting this one as “salal” (Gaultheria shallon) and saving me the agony of gazing on a complete stranger of a plant for the duration.

I am always gratified, in my few travels at distance, to not be totally at sea with regard to the plants I see, often able at least to see family resemblance in new plants to old ones I know from the southern Appalachians. So for this one, it was obviously a “heath” relative, like blueberry and huckleberry and fetterbush and others in our woods.

But given the deeply creased, tough evergreen-looking leaves, I had guessed it close to trailing arbutus. Turns out, it’s closer to (in the same genus as) our teaberry. And like that local plant, this one has an edible berry that has been baked into cakes, made into jams, and the leaves are used extensively in floral arrangements. Salal was among the “new plants” discovered in 1806 by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

So I have made a new acquaintance, only hoping we’ll meet again, when I have more time to stop and visit.


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1 thought on “Olympic Trip: Botanicals ~ 1”

  1. That’s fun stuff to know about. I have heard of Salal, but can’t remember what I learned about it. Keep on botanizing, Fred!

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