Local News

Tree of the Month: Toyon at the Muckenthaler

The Heritage Trees Committee (HTC) presents the toyon at the Muckenthaler Cultural Arts Center as December’s Tree of the Month. It was chosen to recognize its historic, cultural, and ecological values in the hope that it can be preserved and protected.

Toyon tree at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center. Photo courtesy of Jensen Hallstrom.

With a canopy spreading over 30 feet wide and rising nearly 30 feet high, this may be the largest and oldest toyon in Fullerton. It has grown for decades just east of the Muckenthaler house, along the original driveway.

Toyon (heteromeles arbutifolia) is native to both coastal California and northern Baja California. It is a prominent plant in chaparral and coastal sage scrub ecosystems. Though commonly shrubby in form, individual old-growth specimens may attain tree size and structure. Summertime blooms of white flowers are an important source of nectar for  butterflies and a wide diversity of native pollinators. Brilliant red berries ripen in winter and are foraged by western bluebirds, cedar waxwings, and mockingbirds.

Toyon berries. Photo by Jensen Hallstrom.

Toyon berries have historically been a dietary staple for many of California’s native tribes. Ripe berries were cooked to break down toxins in the seeds. The thick, dark green leaves were made into an infusion to treat infected wounds. The dense wood was also harvested and crafted into fish hooks and arrow shafts.

To reach the Heritage Trees Committee (HTC) call or text (714) 729-3019 or visit www.SaveFullerton.com/Trees.