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November Reds: Poison Oak, Toyon, and more

November 27, 2011

The holidays are here, and so are the apple-red (and apple-related) native toyon fruits.

Latin name: Heteromeles arbutifolia.

“Toyon” is the English version of the Spanish “tollon,” from the Greek “tolon.”

Some Chumashan language names:  qwe’, ch’okoko, chmishi.

Native people eat the fruits raw, cooked, or cooked-and-dried. The very hard wood works well to make arrows for bow hunting.

This shrub is found only in California (although it has been known to transgress map lines.) Besides the above names, legend has it that a common name, California holly, was the origin of the place name “Hollywood.”

More local lore: in the 1920s, so many people were cutting so many branches of this plant to decorate for the Christmas holidays that Los Angeles had to pass a law to limit the deforestation. Here’s a shot from a recent twilight hike at Santiago Oaks Regional Park, where many of the toyon shrubs are heavy with fruit right now.

Toyon berries (actually pomes) at Santiago Oaks Regional Park

After a recent rain, the toyon in my yard were shining like Christmas ornaments:

Toyon fruit after rain

Also still in bloom in my backyard native plant paradise . . . California fuchsia (Epilobium canum).

California fuchsia after rain

And one more November red photo from Santiago Oaks:

Poison oak in its crimson fall glory

The last November red from a recent hike at Santiago Oaks:

Santiago Creek warning sign

But how else am I supposed to get across?

Crossing Santiago Creek

(The last two photos are a bit blurry–a reminder to remember to change the camera’s macro setting when not shooting close-ups. . . )

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