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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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Friday - March 08, 2013

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Do Deer Eat Orchid Trees?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have planted three anacacho orchid trees, however we have a lot of deer around us. Is this a tree they will want to eat? Do you have any ideas to keep deer away?

ANSWER:

Anacacho orchid trees (Bauhinia lunarioides) are trees that have a high resistance to deer. But deer will eat anything when they get hungry enough.

Bauhinia lunarioides is on our list of deer-resistant species. Few plants are completely deer resistant, though. Several factors influence deer browsing including the density of the deer population, environmental conditions such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap. It is worth trying Bauhinia to minimize deer damage to your landscape.

Bill Ward of the Boerne Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas has the following comments about orchid trees and deer,“Some people say the Bauhinia is deer-resistant. I don’t know if our subdivision deer munch on orchid trees, because ours are caged. Even if the deer don’t browse orchid-trees, these plants are just the right size for rutting bucks to batter with their antlers. And in our neighborhood, November is the prime time for bucks to do battle with shrubs and trees. I’ll cage any Anacacho orchid tree I plant in our yard.” He does have many compliments for this native tree. He says, “Judging from where it grows naturally, the Anacacho orchid tree is drought-resistant and prefers well-drained calcareous soil. Our orchid trees are planted in well-drained and sunny spots. Of course, I have to water them regularly the first couple of summers to get them well established. However, it’s been many years since I watered our oldest orchid tree at all. It’s a tough little tree."

 

From the Image Gallery


Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

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