By Alicia Funk

The Living Wild Project

Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia, an abundant, evergreen bush from the Rose Family, found in foothills, chaparral and woodland areas below 5,000 feet. Easy-to-grow in the home garden, the dried berries can be ground into a native, local spice and enjoyed as a cider. Its leaves can even be made into a red pigment. Its name in the Nisenan language is jolos and in KonKow Maidu is lo’lo’si and it was eaten traditionally after cooking, with certain berries having a better taste, depending on the location.

Wild Food Recipes

Now is the time to harvest berries for spice and cider. Toyon can be found at these Land Trust preserves: Adam Ryan, Burton Homestead, Black Swan, Rice’s Crossing and Garden Bar.

Toyon Berry Spice

– Dry berries in a well-ventilated basket or at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
– Grind into a fine powder.
The tangy, fruity taste is delicious in smoothies and as a spice on fish.

Toyon Berry Cider

– Cover dried berries with water.
– Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, while crushing berries.
– Strain and sweeten as desired.

CAUTION: Leaves are toxic.

Learn more about wild foods at Living Wild.