Its common name came because toyon's serrated evergreen leaves and brilliant red berries resembled Ilex aquafolium, the Christmas holly East-coast settlers of early California were familiar with. One story goes that an Ohio housewife named Daida Wilcox called the real estate development she and her husband sold "Hollywood," perhaps due to the profusion of toyon shrubs in the hills along the Caheunga Pass or perhaps just because she liked the name.
Toyon became so popular for Southern California Christmas decorations that laws prohibiting cutting the shrub were passed in the 1920s to protect it.
Here in Topanga, toyon grows everywhere, and volunteer seedlings spring up in my yard from berries dropped by birds or animals.
|Toyon seedling in my front yard|
I never saw a cedar waxwing before that, and haven't seen one since. I'm actually not good at seeing birds - somehow my eyes or my brain aren't properly wired to distinguish them.
But I remember that flock of cedar waxwings, each with a yellow band at the end of its tail, and how the brilliant red berries disappeared so quickly as they fed.