General info about Fruit
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia, syn. H. salicifolia) is a common perennial shrub native to southwestern California, USA and the extreme northwest of Mexico, from the San Francisco Bay area to northern Baja California. It is the sole species of Heteromeles, but is closely related to the Asian genus Photinia, in which it is included by some botanists (it was originally described by Lindley as Photinia arbutifolia). Toyon is a prominent component of the coastal sage scrub plant community, and is a part of drought-adapted chaparral and oak woodland habitats. It is also known by the common names Christmas berry and California holly.
How to choose a ripe and fresh Fruit
The fruit is a small pome, 5-10 mm across, bright red and berry-like, produced large quantities, maturing in the fall and persisting well into the winter.
Ways to prepare and serve the Fruit
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruits are 5 - 6mm across, they taste like common haws (Crataegus monogyna). Mealy, astringent and acid. Best if a little sugar is added to sweeten them. They can also be dried, ground into a powder and made into a mush or fermented into a cider. A slight cooking removes any bitter taste. Native North American Indians would often place them in a basket close to the fire and keep turning them until they had wilted before eating them.
Health Benefits and Warnings of eating Fruit
An infusion of the bark and leaves has been used as a wash for infected wounds. A decoction of the leaves has been used in the treatment of stomach aches, plus various other aches and pains.
A golden brown dye is obtained from the leaves and stems. Dark olive-green and black dyes are obtained from the leaves and berries. The fruit-covered branches are gathered in large quantities in California and used as Christmas decorations in much the same way as holly is used in Britain. Wood - very heavy, hard, close-grained.