Toyon Plant Information
Toyon grows in the following 2 states:California, Hawaii
Toyon is a prominent component of the coastal sage scrub plant community, and is a part of drought-adapted chaparral and mixed oak woodland habitats. It is also known by the common names Christmas berry and California holly. Accordingly, "the abundance of this species in the hills above Los Angeles... gave rise to the name Hollywood."Heteromeles arbutifolia (/htromiliz rbjutfoli/; more commonly /htrmliz/ by Californian botanists), commonly known as toyon, is a common perennial shrub native to extreme southwest Oregon,California and Baja California. It is the sole species in the genus Heteromeles.
Toyon typically grows from 2-5m (rarely up to 10m in shaded conditions) and has a rounded to irregular top. Its leaves are evergreen, alternate, sharply toothed, have short petioles, and are 5-10cm in length and 2-4cm wide. In the early summer it produces small white flowers 6-10mm diameter in dense terminal corymbs.
The five petals are rounded. The fruit is a small pome, 5-10mm across, bright red and berry-like, produced in large quantities, maturing in the fall and persisting well into the winter.
Toyon can be grown in domestic gardens in well-drained soil, and is cultivated as an ornamental plant as far north as Southern England. It can survive temperatures as low as -12C. In winter, the bright red pomes (which birds often eat voraciously) are showy.
Like many other genera in the Rosaceae tribe Maleae, toyon includes some cultivars that are susceptible to fireblight. It survives on little water, making it suitable for xeriscape gardening, and is less of a fire hazard than some chaparral plants.
They are visited by butterflies, and have a mild, hawthorn-like scent. The fruit are consumed by birds, including mockingbirds, American robins, and cedar waxwings. Mammals including coyotes and bears also eat and disperse the pomes.
The pomes provided food for local Native American tribes, such as the Chumash, Tongva, and Tataviam. The pomes also can be made into a jelly. Native Americans also made a tea from the leaves as a stomach remedy. Most were dried and stored, then later cooked into porridge or pancakes.
Later settlers added sugar to make custard and wine.
Toyon pomes are acidic and astringent, and contain a small amount of cyanogenic glycosides, which break down into hydrocyanic acid on digestion. This is removed by mild cooking.
Some pomes, though mealy, astringent and acid when raw, were eaten fresh, or mashed into water to make a beverage.
In the 1920s, collecting toyon branches for Christmas became so popular in Los Angeles that the State of California passed a law forbidding collecting on public land or on any land not owned by the person picking the plant without the landowner's written permission (CA Penal Code 384a).
Toyon was adopted as the official native plant of the city of Los Angeles by the LA City Council on April 17, 2012.
More inforamtion about Toyon.