Heteromeles Species, California Christmasberry, California Holly, Toyon

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Heteromeles (het-er-OH-mel-eez) (Info)
Species: arbutifolia (ar-bew-tih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Crataegus arbutifolia
Synonym:Heteromeles fremontiana
Synonym:Heteromeles salicifolia
Synonym:Photinia arbutifolia




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:



6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Aptos, California

Arroyo Grande, California

Canoga Park, California

Chico, California

Davis, California

Day Valley, California

Kelseyville, California

Los Angeles, California

Malibu, California

Martinez, California

NORTH FORK, California

Oak View, California

Paradise, California

Redwood City, California

Rio del Mar, California

Sacramento, California

San Diego, California

San Gabriel, California

Santa Cruz, California

Saratoga, California(2 reports)

Vacaville, California

Valley Center, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Yorba Linda, California

Portland, Oregon

Saint George, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 2, 2012, manza from Long Beach, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

Here's an article about this plant:



On Jun 24, 2011, ogon from Paradise, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Forms a large airy shrub with glossy evergreen leaves year-round. Birds love the winter berries, and there pretty white flowers in spring. The flowers have a strong and unappealing scent though, so I would not recommend planting this too close to your house.


On Jul 5, 2009, Ficurinia from Portland, OR wrote:

Here in Portland, Oregon it is a bit more rainy than California, but planted underneath a Doug fir in a dry sunny spot here in the city this plant has done really well. (I live on a volcano so maybe that helps?) Its other friends include a Ceanothus and an Arbutus and they do great where no one else seems to want to grow. The berries are great in the fall/winter and the blooms in summer are subtle yet creamy. The trio does a great job blocking the view pedestrians might otherwise have of our living room and this makes me love it even more.

Though not a confirmed fact, it is possible that the name Hollywood, California originated from the stands of native Toyon in the Hollywood Hills. So, "Hooray for 'Hollywood' Toyon!"


On Aug 4, 2005, YLcalif from Yorba Linda, CA wrote:

This plant grows on very little water alongside Prickly Pear cactus in its native chaparral habitat above my property line. After ripping out a slope of ice plant a couple of years ago, Toyons were one of the first native plants to be restored. Some were planted in a raised garden bed with average water and the Toyons became a bit scraggly. But the Toyons planted on the steep slope receiving less water have a much nicer compact form.


On Mar 26, 2005, Chuck1260 from Arroyo Grande, CA wrote:

Great shrub or small tree. White flowers in the summer and red berries in the fall and winter. One of the principal chaparral plants in California. Fast growing under the right conditions. Water efficient, tolerates most soils. Can be pruned to form a small tree. It is suseptible to fire blight. Looks good most of the year, can tolerate more water than most chaparral natives.


On Dec 7, 2004, CApoppy from Santa Cruz Mountains, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love toyon.

The rains finally stopped just before New Year's. The time had come for me to search my mountain for the perfect candidate to fill The Vase. It came as a Christmas gift from my stepdaughter who was inspired by our garden renovation last summer. Flowers and vegetables had grown fat, sprawled and climbed beyond my wildest imagination. But garden flowers to fill a grand vase were lacking at this time of year. Toyon, which also calls my mountain its home, seemed to be the perfect answer.

My search for it taught me a thing or two about toyon. Every day I had passed through tunnels of it on my journeys up and down our winding mountain road. It was at the peak of its glory. Bright red berries seemed to be dangling everywhere. And that was the problem. ... read more


On Nov 15, 2004, csm73 from Santa Rosa, CA wrote:

I live in Oak Woodlands and am returning my soil to its natural state clay/rock(volcanic) and the natural soil fungi ae doing well. The toyon volunteered from seeds dropped by birds and deer. Call it a free packet of fertilizer with each seed. Each spring 3 or 4 new seedlings start up in 1/3 acre. As few neighbors have toyon (it is a bit straggly) I figure the seedlings come from my seeds - a success ratio of oh 1 in 3000. Several dozen softball sized clusters of bright red pea-sized berries form on each mature plant. Good contrast with dark evergreen leaves (which deer nibble on). Late winter ONE flock of migrating little birds will eliminate all of them each year.