Care and Growth of Toyon
This is Toyon, California Christmas Berry or
Christmas Holly or
Heteromeles arbutifolia. These beautiful shrubs are prized for
their bright red berries and deep green leaves.
or California Christmas Holly Berry
This is a
fantabulous alternative to Holly if you need something drought-tolerant
for your garden AND a little something for the birds and the bees
These shrubs grows to about 25 feet tall and almost as wide.
make good screens for dry gardens, but you can also trim them into
multi-trunked trees or standards.
They have white flowers which
are attractive to bees, but the show stopper comes just in time for
Yule when the bright red berries ripen against the green leaves.
Toyon is native to the California coast down to Baja and into the
Sierra Nevada foothills. They do well in USDA Zone or Sunset
Zones 5-9, 14-24.
At one point California Holly was a very, very popular table decoration
and so many were cut and dug up, a law was passed to stop people from
picking them in the wild.
Some of the species native to the Channel Islands are endangered or
threatened. Many of our local California Native Plant nurseries
have safely propagated endangered plants in stock, so you can brighten
up your winter garden and help save a species.
However, you should also be aware that
Heteromeles arbutifolia has been
identified by the USDA
as a host plant for Sudden Oak Death. I would not plant it
near oaks and would read the USDA sheet for more info.
Toyon is known by the US
Forest Service to be resistant to fire mortality. Meaning it
seems to survive brush fires well, and will resprout all over the plant
after a fire. Read more at our pals at the USDA Forest Service:
Toyon berries have been eaten by the local Chumash, Tongva and
Tataviam Native Americans either cooked, mashed and mixed with
water as a beverage or dried and baked into pancakes. A tea from
the leaves was also used as a stomach remedy.
This row of Toyon is in the Sepulveda Dam Basin along Woodley.
Our thanks to the designers of this lovely arrangement. It makes
a beautiful California greeting.
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