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
2 ratings

Sunday - February 03, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Bur oak bark damage done by deer
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Just noticed that deer have been rubbing the bark on good sized, but young, bur oaks planted last spring. Mostly in one spot on one side of the trunk. Will this kill the tree? Is there something we can do to help with bark repair? Are deer attracted only to "young" bark . . . Particular kinds of trees? . . . Should we expect to wrap and protect even more mature trees? d.

ANSWER:

We searched far and wide and found only offhand remarks about the kind of damage deer rubbing could do to oak bark. Most of the damage dealt with has to do with deer stunting or killing young trees by eating the budding tips of the branches. Since Quercus macrocopa, Bur oak, is relatively fast-growing, this would seem to be a problem solved by time. The same appears to be the case with the bark rubbing. As the tree grows older, the bark grows tougher and thicker, and the rubbing will not damage it. As long as the tree bark has not been "girdled" or cut all the way around, it won't kill the tree, but it won't do it any good, either, and insects or disease could invade through that opening in the bark. It doesn't appear that deer are particularly attracted to one tree over another, but just to whatever is vulnerable and in their path. We studied several "repellants" recommended by growers, but they all have to be replaced after a rain, and seem to be mostly for protecting young seedlings and tender stem tips.

We did find a couple of resources discussing tree wrapping, which apparently needs to be done for a year or so, until the tree gets big enough or tough enough to resist damage by deer and other beasties. The first is "Newly Planted Trees Need Protection" by John Begeman of the University of Arizona. From the University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension Services comes this article on "Tree Stem Protection." Of course, if you are really having problems with deer in your garden, you may have to consider something like deer fencing, which is a whole other subject. You are the only one who can judge how valuable the trees are to you, how old they are, and thus how near to being big enough to withstand the deer assaults, and whether vigorous measures are called for.


Quercus macrocarpa

 

 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Deer Resistance Input from Northern VA
June 22, 2016 - Hello. I live in the deer infested woods of Northern VA. I am always looking for plants that deer have little interest in to cover other plants. The deer generally have little interest in mints (Py...
view the full question and answer

Deer proof ground cover for sunny area in Mississippi
June 09, 2012 - I am looking for a low ground cover that will thrive in a sunny location and is deer proof
view the full question and answer

Sun tolerant, rabbit-resistant plants in Plano, TX
November 07, 2008 - I live in Plano, Texas and am trying to identify sun tolerant plants for my landscape that are also rabbit resistant. The rabbits have taken over and destroy pansies, marigolds, etc. I am looking fo...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia
April 20, 2013 - Our driveway is 1/4 mile in length and is steep on both sides (one side up one side down). It currently has grass that our contractor planted using seed when we built our house. We are unable to cut t...
view the full question and answer

Perennial ground cover for hillside in Holmdel NJ
April 25, 2014 - I live in NJ. I would like to use a perennial ground cover for my landscaping bed on a hill with full sun and deer resistant. It's a good size landscaping bed that is facing east (southeast). What...
view the full question and answer

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