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?

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
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
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

Wildflowers for deer resistance, low sun, granite gravel soil
March 21, 2007 - We live on Lake Buchanan in the Texas Hill country. What would you suggest for a flowerbed next to the house: north exposure, deer resistant, blooming, shaded by a live oak, granite gravel soil. Tha...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for erosion control on steep hill
June 28, 2009 - I would like control a steep hill behind my house that is red clay, northern exposure with little sun. What plants would you recommend that deer will not eat?
view the full question and answer

Additional screening under yaupons in Georgetown TX
November 09, 2011 - We live on a corner and have a berm along the south side of our yard which blocks our backyard from the street. It was planted with uprights yaupons. With the drought, deer have eaten the bottom por...
view the full question and answer

Does deer repellant really work from Hope NJ
November 10, 2009 - Does Deer Stopper by Messina Wildlife really work as an organic pest repellent?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for deer
June 01, 2008 - I live on 5 acres near Brenham and want to plant FOR the deer, without using non-natives. I leave unmowed islands of Buffalo grass, little bluestem and many native forbs. I know they are using it for ...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center