Heteromeles arbutifolia - Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia is a large shrub or small tree depending upon the exposure, pruning style, and age of the plant. The California Native Toyon will grow at its best under the high shade of oaks inland or in the sun near the coast. Toyon can grow 25 feet tall and wide and puts on a great show of red berries just in time for the Christmas season. Heteromeles arbutifolia is a great plant for attracting birds to your garden. While I was admiring this bunch of berries after I took this photograph a California Thrasher came by and ate berries for awhile. California Thrashers have one of the most musical songs. Toyon often suckers prolifically from the base if it is kept to a tree shape. The trunks can be a bit weak if Heteromeles is grown in tree form, which is not so surprising if you think on it a bit. The natural shape is a shrub where the upright branches are supported by the lower branches. If a trunk should fall new shoots will almost always pop out at the base. So I just cut them off short and wait for them to regenerate. Toyon is in the rose family and like Pyracantha and Asian Pears is susceptible to fire blight. When I notice branches with lots of dead leaves I cut them off immediately.
High resolution photos of Heteromeles arbutifolia are part of our garden image collection.