Native Plant of the Moment: Toyon


It's the time of year when the berries of Heteromeles arbutifolius are ripening, and happy migratory birds (and all the locals) are feasting. Above, a photo I took on the Steven's Creek trail two years ago, and below a photo from the Black Mountain Trail.


With all that bounty, it has, of course, been embarrassing for me that my efforts at growing toyon have not yielded quite the desired results. In the first year, it seemed a struggle to keep this - supposedly easy - plant alive. All manor of rust and discoloration on the leaves showed clearly that this member of the rose family was not too happy in my clay soil. And while toyon grows faster than some native plants, it still took it's sweet time. Here a photo from January 2010.


But between fairly good winter rains and a summer that was not too hot, things improved, and when I came home from a week-long vacation on Sunday, I was delighted to find the red berries I'd been dreaming of for a few years.


And to make things even better, the toyon in the front garden, which I planted from a 5-gallon pot only 2 years ago - or was that 3 years? - is also showing berries. And because this variety, 'Davis Gold' has yellow berries, they are a bright, beautiful yellow.


I'm really very happy how the yellow berries light up the back corner where Davis Gold is planted, and I hope I'll soon see some birds coming to taste the feast I've prepared for them.

Comments

donna said…
Oh, I guess one of my toyons is a Davis Gold -- I just thought the berries never got red...
Country Mouse said…
Timely post - gorgeous berries! I am preparing a post for the folk that took my toyon, thimbleberry, and ceanothus plants, which I'll put up soon. They'll enjoy reading your gardener's e xperience of toyon.
Yay, berries! I planted Toyon earlier this year. It's been doing very well, but the plants are still quite small. Hopefully in a few years they'll produce berries too. From what I've read, bees go bonkers for the flowers, so I can't wait for these shrubs to bulk up. Sounds like I may need to be patient though. I really would love to add 'Davis Gold' too, I saw one of the neighbors had one...I wonder if I can start one from a cutting?
Toyon is beautiful in so many ways. It did take about 3 years for our first plants to shoot up. They were really gangly for another year, then they filled out and finally got some respectable berries last year. P.S., when in bloom, they are buzzing with all kinds of bees!
camissonia said…
Gorgeous! I have 3 Toyons, 2 that are still under 2' tall and another (about 6') which is full of berries, but not yet ripened. I also just planted a Davis Gold last spring, but it almost croaked from the summer heat (drip irrigation went on the fritz). Hoping it will recover over the winter and eventually become as beautiful as yours!
ryan said…
I like those gold berries. I've never grown that one. Personally I don't worry if a Toyon struggles a bit early on. Once they're established they're pretty great.
James said…
They're definitely one of the plants of the moment down here as well. Not all the berries are red yet, but they should get there within a month. I did some guerrilla gardening and planted one next door in the Wasteland Garden before the new renters moved in, unbeknownst to the oblivious owner. I'm crossing my fingers that the little plant survives. I'm sure there are no fruit to speak of at this point, though...