Heteromeles arbutifolia (/
|Toyon bush in habitat|
M.Roem. nom. cons. 1847
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.
Toyon typically grows from 2–5 m (rarely up to 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. Flowering peaks in June 
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 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, cedar waxwings and hermit thrushes. 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.
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 any 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.
The genera Photinia, Aronia, Pourthiaea, and Stranvaesia have historically been variously combined by different taxonomists. The genus Heteromeles as originally published by Max Joseph Roemer was monospecific, including Photinia arbutifolia Lindl. (1820), as H. arbutifolia (Lindl.) M. Roem, but the name was illegitimate (superfluous) because it included the type of the genus Photinia. This has since been corrected by conservation, and the name is therefore often written as Heteromeles M. Roem. nom. cons. (1847).
- Jepson Flora Project (1993) Heteromeles arbutifolia, University of California, Berkeley
- Tropicos.org, retrieved 11 November 2016
- James B. Phipps (2015), "Heteromeles arbutifolia (Lindley) M. Roemer, Fam. Nat. Syn. Monogr. 3: 105. 1847", Flora of North America, 9
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- "Heteromeles arbutifolia, in Jepson Flora Project". Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
- C.M. Hogan, 2008
- James B. Phipps (2015), "Heteromeles M. Roemer, Fam. Nat. Syn. Monogr. 3: 100, 105. 1847. [name conserved]", Flora of North America, 9
- Heteromeles arbutifolia at iNaturalist
- Austin Hagan, Edward Sikora, William Gazaway, Nancy Kokalis- Burelle, 2004. Fire Blight on Fruit Trees and Woody Ornamentals, Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities
- Dave's Garden
- Kaplan, Alan; Hawkes, Alison (December 22, 2016), "Ask The Naturalist: How Important Are Red Toyon Berries To the Winter Food Chain?", Bay Nature
- "Ethnobotany of southern California native plants: Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)". EthnoHerbalist.
- McKINNEY, JOHN (December 6, 1986). "California Holly Adds Color to Trail Up Mt. Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. p. 12.
- California Penal Code Section 384a Archived 2009-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
- "Item No. (28)" (PDF). Journal/Council Proceedings. LA City Council. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Nesom, G.L. & Gandhi, K. (2009), "(1884–1885) Proposals to conserve the names Photinia, with a conserved type, and Heteromeles (Rosaceae)", Taxon, 58 (1): 310–311
- International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants: Appendices II-VIII (Appendix III)
- "Heteromeles salicifolia". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- C. Michael Hogan (2008) Toyon: Heteromeles arbutifolia, iGoTerra.com
- 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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