Use of Massachusetts native plants as deer resistance

Have you seen this book, Deer-Resistance Native Plants – FOR THE – Northeast by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Gregory D. Tepper? I found this book in the “Leisure” section at the Memorial Hall Library here in Andover. At first, I was confused by the title because I didn’t think of using our native plants as deer resistance. I know it is a common problem for gardeners to have trouble with deer eating their plants; especially here in Andover where we have a large deer population. 

After looking through the book I found it very helpful to see the variety of native plants that are beneficial to our area and these plants happen to be considered “deer-resistant”. By “deer-resistant” the book means plants that deer don’t typically eat in people’s gardens. They have a couple of pointers on the first 20 pages talking about what deer prefer to eat and what they try to avoid. 

It is important to have native plants that deer don’t particularly like to eat so that we do have lots of native plants without giving the opportunity for invasive plants to grow in the place of eaten plants deer enjoy. Deer love to eat native plants (which of course is good for them), but having deer eat the native plants on our trails has created an opportunity for the invasive plants to grow more. It is important to have as many native plants in our area as possible, so if it takes us having to plant some that are “deer resistant” that would be great. 

Common features for plants deer avoid:

  • fuzzy leaves
  • tough, leathery, fibrous leaves
  • aromatic leaves and flowers
  • spines or bristles 
  • poisonous compounds 

A couple of Annuals & Biennials plants deer avoid

  • Bidens aristosa (Bearded beggar-ticks, swamp marigold)
  • Centaurea americana (American star-thistle, basket flower)
  • Collinsia verna (Blue-eyed Mary, Chinese houses)

A couple of perennial plants deer avoid

  • Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow, soldier’s friend)
  • Allium cernuum (Nodding onion, lady’s leek)
  • Aquilegia canadensis (Red columbine, wild columbine)

A couple of Ferns deer avoid

  • Adiantum pedatum (Northern maidenhair fern)
  • Athyrium Filix-femina (Nothern lady fern)
  • Drypoteris marginalis (Marginal wood fern, leatherwood fern)

A couple of grasses deer avoid

  • Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
  • Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)
  • Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)

A couple of Shrubs deer avoid

  • Aronia arbutifolia (Red chokeberry)
  • Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet, sweet pepperbush)
  • Lindera benzoin (Spicebush, wild allspice)

If you’d like to read more about the different native plants you can plant in your yard without the worry of deer eating them, check out the book at the Memorial Hall Library!

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