Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 evergreen shrubs for Saratoga Springs, NY
April 20, 2009 - Deer resistant, evergreen shrubs for Saratoga Springs, NY.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant groundcover for Tampa, Florida
June 06, 2009 - I live in Tampa, FL and have a deer problem. I was wondering if you would give me some suggestions for deer resistant ground covers that are hearty and flower but most of all "DEER RESISTANT"!!! ...
view the full question and answer

Leguminous deer-resistant groundcover
August 25, 2008 - Please help me identify a deer-resistant leguminous ground cover native to Central Texas to serve as a guard plant in edible-plant groupings.
view the full question and answer

Food for deer and turkey in Oklahoma
September 10, 2009 - We recently moved to NE Oklahoma from Texas and have 7 acres, a lot of wild turkeys and wild deer. About 2-3 acres are open, with sun and partial to lots of shade as the rest is heavily wooded. What ...
view the full question and answer

Keeping deer away from non-native plants in Lansing MI
June 22, 2011 - What is the real - best way to keep deer from eating my Hostas, Garden phlox and lilies? Ive tried the stinky spray and the fertilizer granules that deter, to no avail.
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.