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Did You Know? California Holly

Did You Know? California Holly

This is the first post in a series we’re calling Did You Know? designed to encourage you to care as much as we do about coastal animals, plants and habitats.

California Holly is not a Holly plant and didn’t lend its name to the expensive suburb of Los Angeles, depending on whom you ask. Toyon (pictured here) might look familiar to locals. It is native to the non-desert mountains and foothills of California and adjacent Baja California.

Toyon, also known by its Latin name Heteromeles arbutifolia, can be found from sea level to 4000 feet elevation. While it’s known as a chaparral plant, it can also be found in oak forests.  Other names for Toyon include California Holly and Christmas Berry.


Some believe (and that includes those who wrote the sign pictured here) that Toyon’s Holly-like properties prompted the original property owners to call their spread Hollywood. Others believe that Hollywood comes from the name of a ranch owned by friends of what would later become Hollywood.  


We’re not taking sides on the California Holly debate, but here’s the information we found:

Putting the Holly in Hollywood (http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1909/)

California Holly: How Hollywood Didn’t Get its Name (http://www.nhm.org/nature/blog/california-holly-how-hollywood-didnt-get-its-name)

Technical details: Califlora.com ( http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Heteromeles+arbutifolia)

Whatever you decide about California Holly, we hope you come and see one of ours here at the Living Coast Discovery Center.  The one pictured here is right by our entrance! Thanks for reading this Did You Know? post!


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