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Did Ivar come up with the name Hollywood because of the toyon? Perhaps. But who wouldn’t be inspired by the beauty of the toyon?
Heteromeles arbutifolia–or, as it is commonly known, Christmas Berry or California Holly–grows in the Santa Monica Mountains and is very easy to cultivate, needing full sun and only occasional water. The plant can grow 6 to 18 feet tall. White flowers in summer yield to red berries in fall and winter. Clipped branches are great to include in floral centerpieces.
In the 1920s, collecting toyon branches for Christmas became so popular in Los Angeles that the State of California passed a law forbidding collecting on public land or on any land not owned by the person picking the plant without the landowner’s written permission (CA Penal Code § 384a).
Whether Hollywood was named in honor of this “California Holly” or not, the well-adapted toyon makes a wonderful addition to any garden.