What Deer Won’t Eat


When it comes to identifying a deer’s palate, it’s less about “what will it eat” and more “what won’t it eat?” That list is far shorter, experts say.

Mark Bridgen, director of Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, compiled a list of nearly 100 plants that do not appeal to the woodland creatures—76 percent of which they will not touch 95 percent of the time. Here is a selection:

Elephant ear

Purple fountain grass

Japanese barbery

Butterfly bush

Japanese cedar

Common, creeping, Japanese and skyrocket juniper

Tree peony

Norway-, white and Colorado blue spruce

Many grasses, including switch grass, golden variegated hakonechloa, Chinese silver grass, perennial fountain grass and ribbon grass

Garlic chives—but not regular chives


Wood fern

Lenten rose—but not many others




Prickly pear cactus

Russian sage

Lamb’s ear



It is important to note that, in desperate times, nearly all plants are fair game for hungry deer.

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