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Mr. Smarty Plants - Lupines for attracting deer in South Carolina

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Friday - April 06, 2007

From: Mountain Rest, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Lupines for attracting deer in South Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in SC and was watching a TV show called "Making it Grow" and they did a segment on Lupine. The lady on the show said that the plant attracted whitetail deer and I was wondering if that was true...We are going to plant a food crop and was interested in the Lupine...Thanks for any help or advise you could give...

ANSWER:

There are two species of Lupinus native to South Carolina, Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine) and Lupinus villosus (lady lupine). The former, L. perennis, is listed as being browsed by deer, but there is also a statement about its toxicity. Poisonous Plants of North Carolina lists them as "toxic only if large quantities eaten". Farm and Garden, an online gardening magazine, in their article, Lupine, reasons that the alkaloids in lupines will be a deterrent to deer eating them. Judging by the white tail deer and the bluebonnets in Texas, I would say that the deer may occasionally eat the bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis (Texas lupine), but it is not one of their major foods and not necessarily an attractant for them.

From your question it sounds as if you are interested in planting the lupines as a food plant for deer. If this is so, you would be better off with a variety of herbaceous plants and with shrubs and trees included in the mix. Deer are mainly browsers on various forbs (broadleaf herbaceous plants) in the spring, switching to leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs when the forbs are scarce. They also feed on mast (fruit, acorns, and seeds of woody plants). Here are a couple of sources for creating supplemental food to attract deer: Food Plots for White-Tailed Deer from Purdue University in Indiana and Attracting Deer to Forested Areas from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestery.

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