Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is an awesome easy-to-grow native shrub, which at 6-10 feet tall and wide can fill a large garden space with year round beauty. This evergreen shrub not only provides winter food and shelter for wildlife but it can also help brighten the holiday season when it has large clusters of bright red winter “Christmas” berries that can be used as holiday accents. During the summer it produces large clusters of white flowers that serve as a good source of nectar for bees and attract a host of other insect species. And the berries were also used as food and drink by the Native Americans of California.
Toyon is common on semi-dry slopes of the foothills from Southern California north to Humboldt Ccounty, and in the Sierra Nevada Range. Toyon does well in gardens as a large screening shrub, hedge, or topiary. It needs full sun and ample space and is fairly drought tolerant. It can be found growing in mixed riparian forest, riparian scrub, and valley oak riparian forest.
(Photo credit: Jason Hollinger, CC-BY 2.0)