Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - October 18, 2011

From: Van, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Need suggestions for a privacy screen besides Murray Cypress.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in NE TX, about an hour east of Dallas on I-20. I hear interstate traffic behind my house, and have a busy street on its left side, and a school adjoining in back. I think I would like to have a living sight and sound buffer, and am considering Murray Cypress. I need something fast growing, wind, sun and drought tolerant and disease resistant. Will Murray Cypress work? Do you have a better suggestion?

ANSWER:

This presents and interesting situation. The Murray Cypress is a cultivar of the Leyland Cypress which is a hybrid of two species of Cupressus that are native to North America. Hybrids and cultivars are not considered natives here at the Wildflower Center, and thus are outside of our area focus. However there is an interesting story here, so I’m including an excerpt from a previously answered question.
“The Leyland Cypress is a hybrid, which means it does not appear in our Native Plant Database, of two trees that are native to the North American Pacific Coast, Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) and Cupressus nootkatensis (Alaska cedar). It hybridized naturally because the two trees were taken to an estate in England and were close enough together to cross pollinate. Ordinarily, in their native habitats in the Pacific northwest, they would have been 400 miles apart and would never have hybridized. Then, later, the resulting hybrid, Leyland Cypress, was exported back to the United States.” Click on this link for more information.

The Leyland Cypress is a sterile hybrid that must be propagated by cuttings. A forester, Bill Murray, was taking cuttings about 50 years ago, and after rooting the cuttings discovered a young tree that had desirable qualities beyond the original Leyland Cypress. This was developed into the Murray Cypress (which is also sterile). Click on this link (scroll down to Murray cypress) for more of the story. Click here for more details about the Murray Cypress.

As for suggestions, Mr. Smarty Plants is thinking that Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) would be a candidate for this job (images,). It is native, fast-growing, adaptable, drought-tolerant, evergreen, takes pruning (although it usually doesn't need it), makes an excellent hedge and is attractive. Here is more information on Eastern red cedar.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Karoo rose
June 15, 2007 - Where would the Adenium obesum/desert rose/Karoo rose pictured in the Austin American-Statesman's Gardening section on 06/09/07 be available for purchase in or near the Taylor, Texas (76574) area?
view the full question and answer

What are the differences between Arbutus xalapensis, A. unedo and A. marina
August 29, 2013 - One nursery lists madrone trees as arbutus uneda compacta and arbutus marina. The other lists it as arbutus xalapensis, which is the only name I can find in the data base. There is a very large pric...
view the full question and answer

Information on various plants from Alamo TX
November 15, 2009 - Have you heard of the following plants: Butterfly Iris,Compact Nanpina, Red Dwarf Turks? I would like to know some details on the above plant: size, flowers?, drought tolerant, where to plant Thanki...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Eugenia in Scottsdale AZ
June 02, 2012 - I have 5 eugenia topiaries in my courtyard in pots..I notice as the days here in Phoenix get hotter and dry (as usual) they are starting to look bad, even though they are under a shelter out of the di...
view the full question and answer

Non-native bougainvillea from Austin
June 25, 2012 - Bougainvillea isn't a native, but since they are so prevalent here, I hope you can help. I have three, one established in-the-ground, which is pruned almost to the ground every winter; two new this y...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.