En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 24, 2009

From: Darby, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Are birdhouse gourds deer-resistant?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Bird house gourds: they smell nasty (to this human being) but I NEED to know if deer are as repelled as a human by the strong odor put off by the plants.

ANSWER:

We are not personally experienced in gourds, but did find out that what is referred to as a "birdhouse gourd" is Lagenaria siceraria, hard-skinned gourd. It has many common names, such as "bottle gourd" and "calabash," but they all apparently are hybrids from the Lagenaria. Members of the Cucurbitaceae, to which gourds, along with pumpkins, squash and, yes, cucumbers belong, all merrily interbreed. Species, when pollinated from another closely-related species, will hybridize naturally. So, there is constant evolution and you can never be sure exactly what characteristics you may expect in one of those hybrids. The gourd is one of the oldest plants raised by human beings, both as a food source and for their obvious utilitarian purposes. It is believed they originated in Africa, but they spread themselves and animals and birds spread them, even gourds floating in the sea can land and be fertile, so they are pretty well everywhere. An annual, the gourd requires 90-100 days of warm growing weather to mature, as well as a whole lot of space.

The USDA Plant Profile for Lagenaria siceraria classifies it as an introduced plant, and does not show it growing in Montana. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are focused on the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Very seldom can a vegetable, like members of the Cucurbitaceae family, be considered as a native because of the extensive hybridization mentioned above. Therefore, we do not have this plant in our Native Plant Database, but because the question was intriguing, we tried hunting on the Internet for information about the deer resistance of the gourd plant. We checked several sites with deer-resistant plants and did not find Lagenaria listed on any of them. Then, we checked sites on the plant itself, and found no mentions of strong odors from the plant. We're not sure if you are referring to the smell as originating in the gourd itself or in the foliage. Deer do not like aromatic plants, although when they are hungry enough, they hold their noses and eat it anyway. We would speculate that deer would be more likely to eat the leaves than the developing gourds, but, again, that's just speculation. If you Google for "deer-resistant plants," you will get a number of lists that you can scan to see if you find something we missed. We also have a deer-resistant plant list, but it only includes native plants.

 

More Deer Resistant Questions

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Texas cherry tomato
April 24, 2005 - We just bought 2 Texas cherry tomato plants at the plant sale. We have to container garden in a walled courtyard due to deer. (Would deer be attracted to the plants in a garden with herbs and high de...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant trees and shrubs for PA
May 05, 2011 - My yard backs up to woods, and we have a herd of 12 deer who peruse the neighborhood. This winter, the deer went after bushes and trees that they previously have not touched: euonomous and leyland cyp...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen, deer resistant privacy screen for Villanova PA
March 29, 2013 - Looking for something that is deer resistant and ideally evergreen to block a shed and fence that my neighbor recently installed. Live in Eastern PA. Not the best drainage and also shade for most of...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant ground covers
November 29, 2007 - Are there any deer resistant ground covers? Our asiatic jasmine has been eaten up by the deer.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center