Friday, September 12, 2008

Native Plants Of California ~ #18 In A Series

The Toyon is a native California perennial coastal sage shrub that has acclimated itself to chaparral and oak woodland areas, as well. It grows from the San Francisco Bay area south to Baja California. It is an evergreen, with flowers that attract butterflies and when the bright red berries mature in the autumn, they attract mockingbirds, robins, coyotes and bears. The plant is propagated by the bears and coyotes, who spread its seeds in their droppings.

Native Americans used the leaves medicinally for a tea to treat stomach disorders and dried and stored the berries to eat with porridge. Early settlers added sugar to make custard and wine, and the leaves and berries were both used for dyes.

Also known as Christmas Berry or California Holly, some say that Hollywood was named for this plant, as it grew profusely over the hills in that area.

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