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Heteromeles arbutifolia

  • Common Name
    Toyon/Christmas Berry
  • CA Native
    California Native
  • Plant Type
    Shrub
  • Size
    6' - 12' x 4' - 5'
  • Flower Color
    White
  • Bloom Time
    • Spring
  • Leaves
    Dark Green
  • Evergreen
    Evergreen
  • Deer Resistant
    Seldom Damaged
  • Wildlife Value
    • Attracts Beneficial Insects
    • Hummingbirds
    • Seed and Fruit for Birds
  • Growth Rate
    Moderate
  • Hardiness
    Hardy
  • Adverse Growth Factors
    None
  • Special Features
    • Attractive Berries
    • Low Maintenance
  • Water Use
    • Drought Tolerant
    • Low
  • Soil pH
    6.5-7.5 (neutral)
  • Exposure
    • Full Sun
    • Partial Shade
    • Shade
  • Soil Type
    Not Particular
  • Drainage
    Good Drainage
  • Description and Cultural Plant Tips

    Toyon is an evergreen shrub that can be trained as a small tree. In the fall and early winter it produces clusters of bright red berries which often cover the tree. Birds love them and this shrub is perfect for a habitat garden since it provides both nectar for bees and berries for birds. It can also be used as a hedge or screen, erosion control on hillsides. It is the plant that Hollywood was originally named for.  People still use it to make holiday wreaths.

    Plant slightly above soil grade in well-drained soils with no amendments or fertilizers. Toyon tolerates sand, clay as well as serpentine. Plant in the fall to take advanatge of the winter rains. Water deeply occasionally in the summer until established. It likes full sun in coastal Marin but does best under the high shade of oaks in the hotter parts of Marin.

    Birds flock to the Toyon berries which hang on the tree until at least January as they aren't edible until very ripe. Bees also enjoy the nectar from the Toyon flowers. The berries are edible to humans but taste terrible. They do contain cyanide that could kill you if you ate enough.

    Toyon is susceptible to fire blight. It can also be overcome by SOD if you are in an area where it is endemic. No serious pests infect this shrub.

  • Master Gardener Comments
    N / A
  • Varietals

    H.arbutifolia 'Davis Gold' - yellow berries