Plant of the Month, December 2019 - Toyon


Heteromeles arbutifolia

Our native plant for the month of December is no other but a perennial shrub filled with red berries every winter: Toyon. This plant is a prominent component of the coastal sage scrub community and is commonly referred to as Christmas berry and California Holly. In fact, Hollywood was named after this plant since it was mistaken for Holly, so Hollywood should really be named Toyonwood. This native shrub provides prime bird food during the cold winter months through their bright red berries. Flocks of Cedar Waxwings frequent our park during this time of year thanks to this native plant. Toyon berries are not only eaten by birds however. Toyon berries can also be eaten by people, although we do not recommend ingestion unless you are familiar with the plant. Our local indigenous population, Tongva are experts on this plant (along with all our other native plants) and would use this plant as food and branches to make toys or instruments. Come check out our park and the beauty of the Toyon during this month! 

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