Christmas Berry (Photinia arbutifolia)

Photinia. arbutifolia. Lindl. P. salicifolia. Crataegus arbutifolia.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Christmas Berry
Photinia arbutifolia

A golden brown dye is obtained from the leaves and stems[168].

Dark olive-green and black dyes are obtained from the leaves and berries[168].

The fruit-covered branches are gathered in large quantities in California and used as Christmas decorations in much the same way as holly is used in Britain[82].

Wood – very heavy, hard, close-grained[82].

  • Medicinal Use

    An infusion of the bark and leaves has been used as a wash for infected wounds[257].

    A decoction of the leaves has been used in the treatment of stomach aches, plus various other aches and pains[84, 92, 257].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[46, 94, 105, 183, 257]. The fruits are 5 – 6mm across[260], they taste like common haws (Crataegus monogyna)[11]. Mealy, astringent and acid[82, 85]. Best if a little sugar is added to sweeten them. They can also be dried, ground into a powder and made into a mush or fermented into a cider[183]. A slight cooking removes any bitter taste[92]. Native North American Indians would often place them in a basket close to the fire and keep turning them until they had wilted before eating them[257].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed will probably require a period of cold stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[188]. Basal cuttings in a frame[200]. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
Requires a well-drained fertile soil in a sheltered position in sun or light shade[200]. Tolerates calcareous soils[200]. Plants are tolerant of drought and poor conditions[260]. This species is not very hardy in Britain[182], tolerating temperatures down to about -7¡c[260]. It succeeds outdoors from south Surrey southwards and westwards[1]. There are some named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[183]. The flowers have a scent similar to hawthorns and are pleasant when smelt from a distance, though less than pleasant when smelt close-to[245].
South-western N. America – California.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.