A shrub, or with pruning, a small tree.
Moderate to rapid depending on location.
Normally about 8' tall, but it can grow 6-30' high and 10-15' wide.
Small, five white petals, in clusters, producing a mild fragrance.
Summer. This plant begins to flower and fruit after its seedling has been in the ground three
Small, clustered, red fruit ripening in fall and persisting into winter. The untasty
apple-like fruit, containing two seeds, are edible when cooked.
Green, elliptical, often with pointed ends, leathery, saw-toothed edges.
The bark is gray to brown and smooth, without thorns.
Strong, wide and deep. In a fire, the plant can resprout from its root crown.
The flowers attract bees, the fruit attracts birds. Toyon is a food plant for one species of
butterfly and several moth caterpillars. Mammals may browse young leaves when the plant is
watered in a drought.
Toxic / Danger:
All parts of the plant contain a cyanide-forming compound that is toxic to humans and
domesticated animals. The ripe fruit become edible when cooked.
California and Baja California, Mexico.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones:
Full sun in coastal areas. In inland areas, full sun to heavy shade.
Locate where the plant will receive full sun most of the day. The soil must be well draining.
This plant does well on slopes.
Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 5-7.8 (strongly acidic to slightly alkaline).
This plant is salt spray tolerant.
Water after becoming established:
once a month mid-spring to mid-fall
allowing for heavy summer rain. Do not overwater. Deep water twice a month mid-fall to
mid-spring allowing for heavy winter rain. This plant evolved in a region with winter rains
and summer droughts.
No. The soil around the plant should dry quickly.
Prune only lightly to shape and trim any time of year. Prune more severely only in mid to
late summer, but do not remove more than one-third of the plant. Pruning makes the plant
susceptible to disease, especially in humid situations.
Seed collected and planted in the fall or stratified and planted in the spring. Stored seed
must be stratified. Semi-hardwood tip cuttings, 4-5" long, with their bottom leaves stripped,
and covered or dipped in rooting hormone, can be placed in a sandy, moist, well draining
planting mix. They will root in 2-3 months.
Fire blight, root rot if overwatered, scale, and thrips. Most diseases occur in moist
Ornamental, hedge, erosion control on slopes. The fruit, baked in a pie, develops a
This plant is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae). It needs less water than an apple tree.
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Latest update: June, 2021.