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Native Shrubs in my Neighborhood

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

During the shelter-in-place, Sutro Stewards with partnership from Handson Bay Area created Nature in you Neighborhood a virtual volunteering experience where we challenge volunteers to go out into their backyard and neighborhoods to see what plants they can find near them! Below is one submission from our project with the youth from Handson Tomorrow. We hope you enjoy their discoveries!

By: Sanjana Ryali

Due to the recent pandemic, I have more time to explore the local trails and parks in my neighborhood. While hiking, I discovered the seasonal emergence of red osier dogwood as well as Toyon trees.

The red osier dogwood is native throughout northern and western North America from Alaska east to Newfoundland, south to Durango and ​Nuevo León in the west, and Illinois and Virginia in the east. Over 98 species of birds, including flicker, tanager, woodpeckers, and catbird are attracted to the plant’s fruit and use the plant as shelter. The scientific name of the plant is Cornus sericea. ​Red osier produces bluish-white fruit and white flowers.

The second plant I found is known as the Toyon tree. Its scientific name is ​Heteromeles arbutifolia. I​t is a perennial shrub native throughout the western part of California and the Sierra foothills. The berries are consumed by birds, including mockingbirds, American robins, and cedar waxwings. Mammals including coyotes and bears also eat and disperse the berries. This plant also supports the pacific azure butterfly and the orange tortrix moth. The Toyon is also known by the common names Christmas berry and California Holly due to the bright red berries it produces.

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