Toyon Berries

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Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) berries ripening.

The berries contain cyanide compounds but after ripening for a couple of months, the chemicals begin to ferment. The result are birds appearing to be ‘drunk’ after a big meal of berries!

Toyon, also called Christmas Berry or the California Holly, is abundant in the hills around Los Angeles and gave Hollywood its name.

Photo taken by Alan Starbuck at Kenneth Hahn Park
Information: California Native Plants for the Garden, by Bornstein, Fross, O’Brien

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