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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - March 05, 2006

From: Granbury, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Use of Gaura by deer as a food source
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I live in North Central Texas and am considering planting some Gaura plants in my backyard. However, we have a large deer population in the area. Are deer generally drawn to Gaura as a food source?

ANSWER:

Though many commercial plant retailers advertise Gaura as deer-resistant or deer-proof, several studies say otherwise. I accessed two journal articles on Texas white-tailed deer dietary preferences and found evidence to suggest that the animals are likely drawn to Gaura as a food source, with a 1968 study by Chamrad and Box in The Journal of Range Management even classifying it as a “high priority” food for deer in South Texas. A later study by Kie, Drawe, and Scott in the same journal suggested that more of it may be consumed by fawns than by adults. A study done by the Noble Foundation for the Cross Timbers region of North Texas and Oklahoma lists Gaura as a small but definite percentage of deer diets in that region. In all these studies, the percentage consumed in relation to other plants was low, but that may be because of low available amounts of the plant in relation to other food sources.
 

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