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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.

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

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Tuesday - May 06, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Deer Resistant
Title: How are NPIN Deer Resistance Ratings Determined?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

If your plant data-base (which is the best thing since sliced bread!) is silent on the degree to which a plant is deer-resistant, does this mean you just don't have enough information to make the call? Also, what are your criteria for high, moderate and low deer-resistance?

ANSWER:

Thank you for your very kind comment about the NPIN Plant Database!

NPIN's (the Native Plant Information Network) databases: The Natve Plant Database, The NPIN Image Gallery and others are all works in progress.  The data in some records is as complete as we've been able to make it, while the data set for other records is missing some information.  Finally, some North American native plant species have not yet been researched and added to the database at all.  However, we strive to make all the information that is in the database as accurate as it can possibly be.

Among the most difficult database fields to populate is the one for deer resistance.  Because deer resistance cannot be accurately quantified, the data provided in this field is somewhat subjective.  As deer will sample almost any plant at some point during the year, very few plants are truly, completely deer resistant.  To be listed as deer resistant in the database, a plant must be one that will rarely be browsed by deer beyond sampling.  Exceptions abound and we often hear from folks with woeful stories of their "neighborhood" deer eating every "deer-resistant" plant in sight.

If we have no data on the deer resistance of a species, the "Deer Resistant" box is not checked in our database and no data for that field is provided.  However, we do not currently have a field for "this plant is favored by deer."  Perhaps we should.  We sometimes provide that information in the discussion fields of that species' plant record.

 

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