Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon)

by Doreen Smith

The name, Toyon, comes from the Native American, and it is also known as Christmas Berry. Probably the plant is responsible for the origin of the name “Hollywood” as  it once grew abundantly in the area .

It is a common shrub or small tree in California, with masses of white flowers that attract bees and butterflies in summer, but it is most noticeable to us in early winter for the bright red berries backed by the dark evergreen foliage. The fruits (pomes) are attractive to many species of birds such as cedar waxwings and American robins. Human uses require cooking the fruits to denature the toxic cyanide glycoside compounds present. Collection of branches is against the law on public lands. It has been the official plant of the city of Los Angeles since April, 2012!

Text by Doreen Smith, and photos by Vernon Smith

Photo by Vernon Smith

Heteromeles arbutifolia – (toyon)


Heteromeles arbutifolia – (toyon)