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|Toyon bush in habitat|
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."
Toyon typically grows from 2–5 m (rarely up 10 m in shaded conditions) and has a rounded to irregular top. Its leaves are evergreen, alternate, sharply toothed, have short petioles, and are 5–10 cm in length and 2–4 cm wide. In the early summer it produces small white flowers 6–10 mm diameter, in dense terminal corymbs.
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 -12°C. In winter, the bright red pomes (which birds often eat voraciously) are showy.
Like many other genera in Rosaceae tribe Pyreae, 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.
The pomes provided food for local Native American tribes, such as 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..
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, California 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 2012 April 17.
- Germplasm Resources Information Network, 1910
- Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43. [Referring to the subfamily by the name "Spiraeoideae"]
- Jepson Flora Project, 1993
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- C.M. Hogan, 2008
- Rundel, Philip W; Gustafson, Robert (2005). Introduction to the Plant Life of Southern California: Coast to Foothills. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-520-24199-1.
- "Heteromeles arbutifolia, in Jepson Flora Project". Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
- Austin Hagan, Edward Sikora, William Gazaway, Nancy Kokalis- Burelle, 2004. Fire Blight on Fruit Trees and Woody Ornamentals, Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities
- McKINNEY, JOHN (December 6, 1986). "California Holly Adds Color to Trail Up Mt. Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. p. 12.
- California Penal Code Section 384a
- "Item No. (28)". Journal/Council Proceedings. LA City Council. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Jepson Flora Project (1993) Heteromeles arbutifolia, University of California, Berkeley
- Germplasm Resources Information Network—GRIN (1910) Bull. New York Bot. Gard. 6:381.
- Michael Hogan (2008) Toyon: Heteromeles arbutifolia, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg
- Photos of Toyon in flower and fruit
- University of Michigan: Dearborn — Native American Ethnobotany (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
- Los Angeles City Clerk - Council Files: Toyon
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