Gaultheria shallon, salal
Known as salal or shallon in the English language. It is an evergreen shrub with leathery leaves, slow growing and not very demanding.
It will grow anywhere, full sun or full shade, but the soil should be rather acidic.
This plant of the Heather family is native to western North America, growing up to 80 cm in height. It is an understory species in coniferous forests, where it can take over large areas by spreading out through rhizomes. Its growth is dense and will form nearly impenetrable bushes. Leaves are very tough, egg-shaped, shiny and evergreen. Young leaves are light green, older leaves are more dark.
As mentioned above, it is very slow growing, so harvesting from your own plants will take a long time. However, salal is being sold in flower shops as a valuable addition to flower bouquets. It will stay fresh for over a month, and will not drop leaves even when they are completely dried out. Normally salal is not being treated with pesticides and other chemical products, because they simply don't seem to be vulnerable to insect plagues or diseases. It is harvested from the wild in Canada for export, G. shallon is considered as a weed. Therefore it can be used as food for phasmids without being worried your cultures will be poisoned. Since salal is always readily available, and most phasmids will accept it, it is a highly valued plant among phasmid breeders since it also stays fresh for over a month !!
Especially some Pyllium species, like the P. bioculatum species, need salal as in Europe there is no guava or mango available. Salal seems to work miracles for needy phasmids.
Salal is edible to humans, the berries and the young leaves work as appetite suppressants. G. shallon berries were a significant food resource for native people, who ate them fresh and dried them into cakes. They were also used as a sweetener, and the Haida used them to thicken salmon eggs. The leaves of the plant were also sometimes used to flavor fish soup. (info Wikipedia)
1) Store bought salal should look fresh and not show any brown blemishes on the leaves
2) As with any food plant, it is always a good idea to thouroughly rinse off the leaves.
3) For young nymphs and delicate species, it is advisable to cut away the edges, as salal leaves are tough and likely to not appeal to hatchlings.
4) Salal stays fresh for longer periods, check the water level in the water container regularly. When you need to add fresh water, take out the stems, cut a tiny bit off of the stem before putting them back into the container. This way there is fresh tissue that probably will soak up water more easily, and keep the plants fresh over even longer periods of time.
5) Salal stems are not carefully cut off when being exported, so make sure when you get home, to cut a tiny bit off of the stems, so a decent "wound" is being made and placed in the water container.
6) According to the experience of Tim Van Molle, the small-leaved plants are the best ones to feed your animals.