Christmas Berry Tree
Christmas Berry, also known as Toyon is a stunning and underused West Coast native that we adore for its evergreen foliage, profusions of white flowers and beautiful red berries that ripen around Christmas time. Toyon has long been used as a traditional food source and makes an excellent jam, fruit leather or addition to fermented drinks though it must be cooked to remove the cyanide compound from the berry! Once cooked it has a lovely cherry flavor and if you decide not to harvest it is a favorite berry for wildlife!
Early Californian Landscape Architect Ralph Cornell said it best when he described Christmas berry as “a plant that encourages bird life, supplies the bees with an unexcelled source of honey, gives food to man, furnishes tannin from its bark, protects arid slopes from erosion, paints the landscape with vivid colors and carries joy into the home at Christmas time, when no other berries are available to most Californians, surely deserves the protection of man, whom it serves so well.” High praise for an exceedingly lovely plant!
Latin Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia
Site and Soil: Christmas Berry likes full to 1/2 day sun and well-drained soil.
Pollination Requirements: Self-fertile
Hardiness: Hardy to 0 F
Size at Maturity: 6-10 ft. in height
Bloom Time: June-July
Pests & Diseases: None that we have seen
USDA Zone: 7b