Tag Archive | deer

Deer Rutting = Tree Trunk Damage

As a designer of landscapes, I try to assess all of my landscape material choices wisely. This goes beyond simple choices of sunny or shade plants and moves into specific placement of hardscape or plant material for; flow, accentuation of house architecture, soil characteristics, aesthetics, safety and wildlife considerations. The areas that I work in are heavily populated by deer. I must consider the chance that any plant might get eaten by deer and stick to plants that tend to not be devoured by them (Links Below!)

Sadly, not all things can be assessed for. Some of the funnier instances that I don’t generally plan for is the inability of someone to pull in and out of their own driveway. Landscape lighting tends to get run down fairly often. Funnier still, my cure is to put an outcrop stone in front of it, which then just get pushed by the offending auto into the lighting fixture. At that point we move the fixture, can’t teach old dogs new tricks, it seems.

The situation in the photos was a new one on me. I’d seen it many times while hiking in the forest preserves. In the late fall, male deer feel the need to rub off the velvet on their antlers. It’s called ‘rutting’. Male deer do this for a multitude of reasons; mark territory, show dominance, tell does he’s available… It’s the Tinder of the deer world. This poor Ginkgo didn’t have a chance.

Bucks prefer to rub on trees and shrubs that have smooth bark and are one-half to four inches in diameter. All bucks will rub saplings less than two inches in diameter, however only older bucks will regularly rub trees six or more inches in diameter. Seeing a large-diameter tree that shows signs of steady rubbing, is a sure sign that at least one older, buck frequents the area.

In the South and Southeast, bucks seem to prefer aromatic species, such as cedar and sassafras. However, they’ll also readily rub alders, eastern juniper, cherries, witch hazel, winged sumac, striped maple, sourwood and pines.

The Northeast and Upper Great Lakes region bucks like trembling aspen best as the species has a smooth, soft bark that is easily stripped. The inner wood is very light in color and has long-lasting brilliance once it’s exposed. Along with the aspen, red maple, sumac, black cherry, balsam fir, pines and willows are frequently rubbed; whereas thick barked trees like, sugar maple, ironwood, beech and paper birch are usually avoided.

Why this action of scraping the trunk surface is so bad is that just under the bark is the xylem which carries water and minerals from the roots to the leaves and the phloem which carries manufactured food, like sugars, from the leaves to the roots. If the xylem or phloem is severed all the way around the tree (girdling the tree), food cannot be carried to the roots and they will eventually die, causing the whole tree to die.

It’s sad, however there is really no way to predict this happening. Clients aren’t going to circle their trees with protective fencing either. Unfortunately, we’ll just replace this tree and hope that it will not be bothered again.

Deer Proof Trees

Deer Proof Shrubs

Deer Proof Perennials

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 8-22-2016

Midwestern Native Deer Resistant Trees, Deer Resistant Shrubs & Perennials

wpid-2012-11-03-15.19.36.jpgMidwestern residents have to deal with the grazing andwpid-20130702_160147.jpg trampling of their shrubs by Odocoileus virginianus or the white-tailed deer. There are many choices of ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials that are deer-resistant. These are links to some North American natives that will work in the Midwest. Remember, when the weather is sever enough, deer will eat just about anything.



How to Collect, Store and Grow Things From Seed

seed collection pix

Midwestern residents can save money by collecting their own seeds.

It’s an advantage to vegetable gardeners to harvest seeds from plants that did well in their garden. The plant would have grown accustomed to the particulars of the plot, and provided the same DNA to the seeds. Unfortunately, hybrid varieties do not keep their traits; don’t collect these unless one likes surprises.

It is illegal to gather seed in forest preserves, natural areas, or parks. It is legal to gather seed on rights-of-way, which are mostly along public highways. Do not take all of the seeds of a plant, please share with Mother Nature.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly – Papilio glaucusimage


I don’t seem to see these guys until later in the season. Maybe because they like other areas better than mine? I don’t know. I’m just glad to see them when I do.
Caterpillar Hosts: Leaves of various plants including wild cherry (Prunus), sweetbay (Magnolia), basswood (Tilia), tulip tree (Liriodendron), birch (Betula), ash (Fraxinus), cottonwood (Populus), mountain ash (Sorbus), and willow (Salix).
Adult Food: Nectar of flowers from a variety of plants including wild cherry and lilac (Syringa vulgaris). Milkweed (Asclepias) and Joe-Pye Weed [Eupatorium] are favorites in the summer months.
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Midwestern Deer Resistant Perennials

Plant it and they will comeAND eat it!!


This was the first year that the deer took a buffet walk through my shade garden. My yard is fenced (abet it only is 3′ feet high), I have vicious clueless dogs and I generally have nothing they want. The only time I have seen them in my yard is in February, when they are desperate and willing to eat the osage oranges in the far back yard.

Although I generally don’t have problems, my clients are plagued by these furry eating machines constantly. For them, I stick with using plants that have been generally proven to be deer resistant, however, when hungry enough, they will eat anything resembling food. Even if it is to just taste it to be SURE it isn’t food.

IF you are looking for other deer resistant plants, Here is a list of SHRUBS and TREES that deer tend to leave alone.

Here is a list of perennials that I have found don’t get munched on by Bambi:

Common Name: Scientific Name:




Bee Balm


Black-eyed Susan

Butterfly Weed




Fleabane Daisy

Foam Flower





Hens & Chicks



Jacob’s Ladder

Rose campion

Marsh Marigold

Meadow Rue





Purple Coneflower

Rock Cress

Russian Sage



Shasta Daisy









Aconitum spp.

Anemone spp

Artemisia spp.

Astilbe spp.

Monarda spp.

Bergenia spp.

Rudbeckia hirta

Asclepias tuberosa

Aquilegia spp.

Coreopsis spp.

Geranium spp.

Erigeron x hybridus

Tiarella cordifolia

Gentiana spp.

Geum spp.

Solidago spp.

Helleborus nigra

Sempervivum spp.

Hibiscus spp.

Iris spp.

Polemonium caeruleum

Lychnis coronaria

Caltha pulustris

Thalictrum spp.

Flipendula spp.

Paeonia spp.

Phlox divaricate

Dianthus spp.

Echinacea purpurea

Arabis caucasica

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Salvia spp.

Sedum spp.


Eupatorium rugosum

Helenium autumnale

Cerastium tomentosum

Veronica spp.

Linaria spp.

Valeriana officinalis

Viola spp.

Achillea spp.

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-10-2014

We had a wonderful long camping trip. However is now time to start pining for the next trip!
These were all taken at Deer Grove Forest Preserve. We attend an annual cookout here.

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!

There is a model airplane area here. It was fun to watch the boys play with their machines.
This girl didn’t seem to care at all that we were walking through. She was only about 15 feet from me.
Grassy weed
Very kewl seedhead.
Solanum americanum – American nightshade. Some say poisonous, some say edible. If you’re not sure don’t eat it, DUH!
Firefly (Lampyridae) on Chrysanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’
Eupatorium rugosum White Snakeroot (I think) anyone with a red pen?

I need to learn my Helianthus family! I keep forgetting to take a photo of the back of the flower. This is a huge ID helper!

Helianthus giganthus – Giant sunflower

These are barn swallows (Hirundo rustica)



© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Walkin’ in Lakewood…

My husband and I live near a Forest Preserve called Lakewood. We were out enjoying a hobby called geocaching http://geocaching.com  this morning, as it was one of the first nice days of 2013 here in the Midwest. It was also our 9 year anniversary last Thursday.


Beavers at work!

We finally caught site of one of the first geocaches of the year. See it?


See the angel?

The forest had many sounds of spring in the air with the sandhill cranes overhead and the western chorus frogs in the lakes. There were also some deer hiding among the trees, right where a cache was hidden.


You see one, but there were many.

There were also a pair of beautiful swans floating majestically in the lake.



Enjoy the day & keep on planting!