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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Heteromeles arbutifolia (Lindl.) M. Roemer
Toyon, California Christmasberry, Christmasberry, California holly, Hollywood
Synonyms: Heteromeles arbutifolia var. arbutifolia, Photinia arbutifolia
USDA Symbol: hear5
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
A freely branched, evergreen shrub or small tree which can grow 15-20 ft. tall but usually is 6-8 ft. high and 4-5 ft. wide. Leathery, dark-green leaves provide a background for profuse white blooms and long-lasting displays of bright-red berries. The flowers and berries occur in large, terminal clusters. One of the most beautiful native shrubs or small trees, evergreen, with short trunk, many branches, and rounded crown.
The only species in its genus, Toyon is very showy in winter with evergreen leaves and abundant red fruit and is popular for Christmas decorations. A pioneer plant on eroded soil, it sprouts vigorously after fire or cutting. The common name Toyon is derived from an Ohlone word for the plant, and Hollywood, California, is thought to be named for it. It was once a major component of the chaparral that made up the original Hollywood landscape.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf Retention: Evergreen Flower:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
CA , HI Native Distribution:
CA & Baja CA Native Habitat:
Semi-dry, brushy slopes, foothills & canyons below 4000 ft. USDA Native Status: L48(N), HI(I)
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Poor, dry, well-drained soil.
Conditions Comments: Adaptable, long-lived and drought-tolerant. Berries last from Nov. to Feb. Susceptible to fire blight and black mildew, especially near the coast. Tolerates serpentine soil. Exhibits allelopathic tendencies.
BenefitUse Ornamental: As a hedge.
Use Wildlife: Birds eat berries.
Use Food: Indigenous peoples cooked and ate the berries. They are toxic in large amounts.
Warning: Berries are toxic in large amounts.
PropagationDescription: Propagation by seed is possible but germination is slow.
Seed Collection: Hand snips are needed to clup the fruits. Place fruits in a warm place and allow to ferment to aid in the extraction of seeds.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CANative Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2010-12-15
Research By: TWC Staff