Our California native plants are beginning to show off their vivid displays at the garden. One outstanding example is the Toyon shrub, covered right now with bright red-orange berries.
Toyon is one of the premier native evergreen shrubs, growing 12 to 15 feet tall. It has dark green leaves and clusters of creamy-white flowers from spring to summer which attract butterflies.
In fall, berries begin to form, and in winter the ripe berries are valued by many bird species including cedar waxwings, quail, towhees, robins and more.
Toyon is also known as Christmas berry, or California holly. It is very drought tolerant and with its deep roots it is used for erosion control and slope stabilization. Several can be found in the Waterwise Garden area and one is by the tool shed.
Interestingly, the common name Toyon comes from the Native American Ohlone people living in the San Francisco, Monterey Bay, and Salinas Valley areas who used parts of the shrub as medicine, food and also for ornaments.