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Mr. Smarty Plants - Will deer eat lemon cypress trees from Hayden ID

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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

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