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Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants with latex-containing sap

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Tuesday - December 23, 2008

From: Hopatcong, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Plants with latex-containing sap
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I was on a nature hike this past summer in Yosemite, and our Ranger guide told us about latex in the Milkweed and the Western Dogwood being a defense mechanism against browsing by deer. I'm a landscape architect and most of my work is in New Jersey. I'm wondering whether there is a list of native plants that produce latex. The deer problem has become severe in parts of the Northeast. The Milkweeds have been some of my favorite plants. I'd like to see if there are other plants that might have this latex based resistance to deer browsing. Life is good.

ANSWER:

Most members of Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed family) and many in the Papaveraceae (Poppy family) have latex-containing sap, as well as members of the tribe Cichorieae of Asteraceae (Aster family)—notably Taraxacum spp. (dandelion), Lactuca spp. (lettuce), Agoseris spp. (false dandelion), Krigia spp. (dwarf dandelion), Sonchus spp. (sowthistle), Lygodesmia spp. (skeleton plant), Hieracium spp. (hawkweed).  Many plants in Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)—in particular, all plants in the genus Euphorbia—contain latex sap.  One species in Euphorbiaceae, Hevea brasiliensis, a native of South America that has been introduced into the tropics around the world, is the source of natural rubber. You can use the "Narrow Your Search" option in the Native Plant Database to limit the members of these latex-sap containing families to species that occur in New Jersey.

We have a list of native  Deer Resistant Species.  Again, you can use the "Narrow Your Search" option to limit the selections to plants found in New Jersey.  Also, Rutgers University New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has  a list of Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance.   Not all are native plants, of course, but you can check them against our Native Plant Database for their nativity.


Asclepias incarnata

Asclepias tuberosa

Argemone mexicana

Euphorbia corollata

Taraxacum officinale

Lactuca graminifolia

Hieracium gronovii

 

 

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