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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - December 17, 2010

From: Washington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Rattan vine for deer in Washington County, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My property in Washington County has a lot of very old rattan vine, much of which is 3" in diameter. All of the leaf and berry production on these vines is well over 50' above the ground. I manage my property for white-tail deer and have been working extensively on brush management (mostly clearing yaupon and old greenbrier thickets) in some of these areas where the rattan vine grows. I have pulled some of the smaller vines down to within reach of the deer and the leaves have been quickly consumed. Can I prune the old large vines back to where the growth will be at a lower level and therefore of benefit to the deer? And if so, when is the best time to prune?

ANSWER:

Berchemia scandens (rattan-vine) is native to your area in Washington County. You must have some real whoppers there, with 3" diameter vines. Our webpage on this plant says the vines can reach "up to" 1" in diameter. The webpage also says it is beneficial to wildlife, but does not specifically mention deer. However, the height you are quoting is correct, over 50' up in the trees. This vine requires shade or part shade, and yet it seems to be looking for sunlight, climbing up in the trees like that. Since the vine is deciduous, and therefore probably has nothing for the deer right now, our best guess is that you need to cut those vines way back, like down to 3' or so above the ground. They will put out new leaves and blooms, because all plants' Prime Directive is to survive and reproduce. This will get the new growth down to where the deer can reach them, and no doubt they will dine on the fresh sprouts in the spring.

From Louisiana Ecosystems, here is some more information on the rattan vine. A couple of the sites we looked at mention that the berries were poisonous, but were widely eaten by birds, and the vine was browsed by deer. You might also be interested in this Dave's Garden Forum negative comments about the invasiveness of the vine. If you are truly interested in providing browse for the deer, you are going to have to trim back the vines, probably every year, to keep the leaves within reach of the deer.

 

From the Image Gallery


Alabama supple-jack
Berchemia scandens

Alabama supple-jack
Berchemia scandens

Alabama supple-jack
Berchemia scandens

Alabama supple-jack
Berchemia scandens

More Deer Resistant Questions

Deer resistant vines for Kentucky
January 28, 2010 - Is there a vine I can grow on my garden fence to deter deer?
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant groundcovers for erosion control
September 26, 2012 - I need a ground cover (vine??) that will help me with erosion on a sloped front yard. It gets about 6-8 hours of sun and my main need is for something that the rats in our neighborhood will not destro...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering possumhaw seedlings indoors in Pflugerville, TX.
September 30, 2009 - Can possumhaw (Ilex decidua) seedlings be kept indoors over the winter? The goal is to protect them from deer and there is no other good option (i.e., no protected outdoor porch, etc.), unless you ca...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant native plants for Eagle Scout project in Urbandale IA
April 27, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My son is planning his Eagle Scout Project doing some landscaping for the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. The facility has asked him to use only plants native to Iowa. Can you su...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant wildflowers for Virginia
May 25, 2010 - Looking for deer-resistant native wild flowers for full-sun location in the Northern Neck of Virginia. We want to replace large area now grass lawn.
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