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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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Saturday - December 06, 2014

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Forage plants for deer in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Looking for best forage plants and seed for deer forage, Canyon Lake-New Braunfels, Tx. Have searched listings, but areas are NE or other and not relevant to my location. Your time much appreciated.

ANSWER:

Wildlife Forage Areas and Food Plots for Deer from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension says that deer feed primarily on forbs and browse (twigs and leaves of wood plants) and rely very little on warm-season perennial grasses that are important food for cattle.  They also feed on soft and hard mast (fruits such as plums, persimmons, berries and acorns) when available.  Unfortunately, none of the grasses and forbs that they list in their tables are natives.

Here are some warm-season forbs that are native to the Canyon Lake-New Braunfels area and are used by various wildlife:

Vicia ludoviciana (Louisiana vetch)

Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge pea)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Dalea purpurea (Purple prairie clover)

Simsia calva (Awnless bush sunflower)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Desmanthus illinoensis (Illinois bundleflower)

You can find many of these offered at North American Natives.  They also have Native Mixes (grasses and wildflowers) that might be good choices.  All the seeds that they offer are native to Texas.

Some of the above native forage plants are also available at Douglas King Seeds.  They also have wildlife mixes, but please realize that the grasses and the majority of the forage plants in the mixes are NOT native plants.  Since our mission is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes", we would not recommend using these non-native mixes.

 

From the Image Gallery


Deer pea vetch
Vicia ludoviciana

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata

Engelmann's daisy
Engelmannia peristenia

Purple prairie clover
Dalea purpurea

Awnless bush sunflower
Simsia calva

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Illinois bundleflower
Desmanthus illinoensis

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