Gaultheria shallon is a hardy shrub in the Ericaceae family – it’s related to blueberries, which is very obvious from the flowers (although not, perhaps, in this picture).
Also known as Shallon, or Salal, it’s native to western North America and was introduced into the UK as an ornamental shrub. In suitably acidic environments it can become invasive, although it’s easily kept under control by grazing animals.
It’s a good choice for a forest garden as it tolerates both sunny and shady conditions, growing to around 2 metres. According to Wikipedia, the fruits produced are actually swollen sepals; they are produced in abundance through the summer, dark purple and the size of blackcurrants and a bit like their blueberry relatives.
They have been used as appetite suppressants, but also make good eating – dried or fresh, baked or made into jam. The leaves are edible and can be used for herbal tea or as a potherb. Apparently the foliage is also popular with florists.
If you want to add this pretty shrub to your garden then you’ll either need acid soil or to keep it in a container in a suitable ericaceous growing medium.
Have you grown shallon?