En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - June 02, 2012

From: Hayden, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Deer Resistant, Trees
Title: Will deer eat lemon cypress trees from Hayden ID
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Do deer eat lemon cypress trees? We do not think so since they are so spiny, but wanted a clarification.


Every time we are asked about this plant, we go through a learning process. When we search on our Native Plant Database, there is no Lemon Cypress. When we Google on it, we get webpages like this Caring for Your Lemon Cypress Trees, referring to it as having the scientific name Cupressus macrocarpa. So, we think, AHA, we'll look in our Database for that scientific name. Did that - Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress). Please follow that plant link to learn, as we always do, that this plant occurs natively in only one county, Monterey County, in California, gets quite large and is dark green. We can't possibly be talking about the same plant, right? Pictures

Another source, Floridata Cupressus macrocarpa, confirmed this identification.

Then, here is this link: Cupressus macrocarpa 'Goldcrest',  as well as one from Dave's Garden which refers to the plant as a cultivar of Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) and has pictures of what must be the Lemon Cypress, much smaller than the parent plant, with a bright yellow green color. It apparently is often grown as an indoor plant. Pictures

So, having once again explained to ourselves what this plant is, we'll try to find out if it is considered deer resistant. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a list of deer resistant plants. Please note the paragraph at the top of the list pointing out that there is no such thing as "deer proof" and if the deer are hungry enough they'll eat the sheets off your clothesline.

We found no member of the Cupressus genus on our deer resistant list. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't, just that the subject has not been tested. But, after all that hemming and hawing, we tend to agree with you that the deer wouldn't care for it, it is spiny and has a fragrance. Deer are not usually attracted to a plant by smells, but again, if they are hungry enough, they could just hold their noses.

If you have not already purchased this plant, we suggest you do a little further research, using some of the links we have given you. Since a cultivar will not appear in our Native Plant Database, it would not be considered a native and is therefore out of our range of expertise. However, we would urge you not to consider planting them until November, at the earliest. Also, from the Dave's Garden website, above, we learned that the Lemon Cypress is only hardy to USDA Zone Hardiness 7a, while Kootenai County appears to be in Zone 6a. That probably explains why the plant is often used as an indoor plant. Plus, we don't know what kind of soils you have nor what soils this plant will tolerate. Pictures




More Non-Natives Questions

Yellowing leaves on non-native podocarpus Cupertino CA
May 22, 2011 - I recently planted a podacarpus granular and over half the leaves are turning yellow some are dead. What could be the problem? Is there something I can feed it? What should I do? I planted four & the...
view the full question and answer

Transplant time for small smoke tree from Battle Ground WA
June 01, 2014 - When do I transplant a smoke tree that is still young, about a foot high? It is too close to a fence, which I fear will be a problem as it gets big. I live in Battle Ground, WA which is zone 6.
view the full question and answer

Problems with Habiturf in Austin
May 10, 2014 - I have been trying to establish a Habiturf lawn in my back yard. It is approximately a 1,000 square foot area and this last seeding was the third over about one and a half years. I just recently over ...
view the full question and answer

What is wrong with cultivars of native plants?
May 26, 2009 - What is wrong with cultivars of native plants? My state native plant society won't allow cultivars at their annual sale, and the native plant nursery from which I order only offers the species. But a...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive carrot wood tree losing leaves in Alpine CA
April 22, 2014 - My carrot wood tree is losing all of its leaves. The tree is about 15foot high & 13 years old. Could it be gophers? The tree was trimmed 1 year ago.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center