Red berries

Scientific Name

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Full Sun

Part Sun

Part Shade

Low

Max. Height × Width

6–25 feet × 10–15 feet

More information

calscape.org

Price & Availability

One gallon

$9

8 available

The “Official Plant” of Los Angeles since 2012 (a faintly ridiculous but otherwise honorable distinction), Heteromeles arbutifolia, or Toyon, is the ultimate, local native workhorse. Even when most native plants once common in the foothill/canyon neighborhoods of Los Angeles have long since vanished, you can still find a stray Toyon here and there, a tough, evergreen perennial flourishing inconspicuously among the imported Oleanders and Chinese Elms.

Toyon is happy in full sun to part shade, but will go a little leggy with less sunlight. It needs little to no supplemental water once established, but tolerates typical “garden conditions,” i.e., it will obligingly coexist with exotic landscaping plants that require more irrigation. While exhibiting a somewhat moderate growth rate at first, this plant can reach towering heights in a relatively short period of time, making it a great choice for a screen or informal hedge.

Birds go absolutely nuts for the red, waxy berries when they ripen in early winter. Last year, a couple of resident Northern Mockingbirds basically denuded a large Toyon in the LANPS garden to the last berry over the course of just a few days. It was a joy to behold.