This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.
Toyon or Christmas berry
Size: 10 to 15 feet tall
Bloom season: Spring
Pruning needs: Little or none.
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Water needs: Once established, water deeply every two weeks.
Snapshot: Native to most of California, this handsome shrub with leathery, dark-green leaves blooms in spring, but its winter berries make it a standout. Throughout the colder months, large clusters of berries decorate the plant, giving it the nicknames “Christmas Berry” or “California Holly.” In fact, toyon’s holly monicker gave Hollywood its name; Hollywood’s hills were filled with toyon. Native toyon has red berries, but the university’s arboretum has developed a toyon with golden fruit. Appropriately called “Davis Gold,” this hybrid is a UC Davis exclusive. Toyon berries are a favorite food of the cedar waxwing, a bird that migrates through the Central Valley. You can see both yellow- and red-berried toyon specimens in the arboretum’s Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California native plants on the UC Davis campus.• For more on the New Front Yard, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.
See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden .