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Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer eating creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata)

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Tuesday - November 04, 2008

From: Mariposa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Deer Resistant, Shrubs
Title: Deer eating creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have Creosote Bushes (Larrea tridentata) that grow wild on out 10 acres. The deer eat those plants all year 'round. Probably more in the dry times of the year. Just wanted to let you know that they are NOT deer proof. Thank you,

ANSWER:

Thank you very much for your information.  Most of the lists for deer resistant plants emphasize that the plants are "deer resistant", not "deer proof".  For example, see the following listings of Larrea tridentataCamouflage Gardening by Patti Simons from the Native Plant Society of Texas, Deer Resistant Rarely Damaged Shrubs from Deer-departed.com and the Deer Resistant list from Pacific Coast Home and Garden Center.  But we do know that deer will eat things they aren't "supposed" to eat.  It often depends on the concentration of deer in an area and the availability of preferred food as to whether they will eat plants that have been named "deer resistant".  After environmental conditions have forced them to eat plants that they normally avoid, deer sometimes seem to develop a taste for the usually unpalatable species.  For instance in my urban neighborhood several years ago when there was a drought and a large population of deer, they ate the normally spurned English ivy (Hedera helix)—not such a bad thing since English ivy is on the Plant Conservation Alliances's Alien Plant Working Group "Least Wanted" list.  They ate it down to the bare stems and denuded a lot of lawns.  The ivy being the hardy, invasive plant that it is, recovered; but, strangely, they still eat it sometimes even though they don't seem to be particularly stressed for food right now.

 

From the Image Gallery


Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata

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