Survival Tip

Christmas berry
California holly
(Heteromeles arbutifolia)

Toyon berries become ripe in late November or early December are native to most of California. They can ripen as early as September and can remain on the bush until April. The berries are mealy and are almost tasteless. They taste similar to a cheap very starchy cherry pie or an over ripe mealy dry apple. They are something to eat that does not taste bad in the winter though. They are in the same class as their family member delicious apples not very good and not very objectionable. I have tried making a jam from these berries but it was not what I would call a great success. It might have been better if mixed with a strong tasting fruit like cranberries.

These bushes gave Hollywood its name because they grow abundantly on the dry hills behind Hollywood California. In my opinion Toyon is a much better bush to put in the median strip of freeways than the deadly toxic, air poisoning, introduced Oleander that Caltrans seems to love so much. ( Some people are so sensitive to Oleander that they can not live near it and remain healthy. ) Toyon is an evergreen that makes a nice edible "child safe" decoration. (Some toxic Christ mass decorative plants Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettia) [Please do not send e-mail saying Poinsettia is not toxic. Poinsettia causes vomiting]


Notice the small barbs on the leaves. The whitish pith of the berries. This small leaf and berry are at about X 2 magnification.



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