Deer Resistant Plants

Merry Jo Bauer

Deer-Resistant Native Plants - Finger Lakes Native Plant Society
by Merry Jo Bauer - 4/23/2003

This is a compilation, taken from four different lists, of native plants that are said to be rarely eaten by deer or are less palatable to deer. The asterisk denotes on how many of the four lists the plant appears. Please note that deer herds seem to develop their own tastes so that a plant that is not eaten in one locale just might be eaten in a different locale.
All of these plants are native to eastern North America but many are not native to central New York, New York or even northeastern North America. It should also be noted that for some genera listed there are many species some of which are native to eastern North America and others that are not.

Aconitum spp. (monkshood) **
Actaea pachypoda, A. rubra (white and red baneberry)*
Allium spp. (wild onion) ***
Amsonia spp. (blue-star) ***
Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine) **
Arisaema dracontium (green dragon) *
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit) **
Aruncus dioicus (goat's-beard) **
Asclepias spp. (milkweed) **
Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed) *
Aster spp. (aster) *
Astilbe biternata (false goat's-beard) ***
Astragalus spp. (milk-vetch) *
Baptisia spp. (wild indigo) **
Campanula spp. (bellflower) *
Caulophyllum spp. (blue cohosh)*
Chelone spp. (turtle-head) **
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)*
Chimaphila umbellata (prince's pine, pipsissewa) *
Cimicifuga racemosa (bugbane, black cohosh)*
Coreopsis spp. (tickseed) **
Delphinium spp. (larkspur)*
Dicentra spp. (bleeding heart) ***
Echinacea spp. (coneflower) ***
Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master) *
Eupatorium spp. (joe-pye weed) **
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)*
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)*
Euphorbia corollata (flowering spurge)*
Geranium spp. (wild geranium) **
Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf) *
Liatris spicata (gay-feather)*
Limonium carolinianum (sea lavender)*
Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)**
Lupinus spp. (lupine) *
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)*
Mimulus spp. (monkey-flower)*
Mitchella repens (partridge-berry)**
Monarda spp. (bee balm) ***
Myrica pensylvanica (northern bayberry)*
Oenothera spp. (evening primrose)**
Opuntia humifusa (prickly pear)*
Podophyllum peltatum (may-apple)*
Pycnanthemum spp. (mountain mint)*
Rudbeckia spp. (black-eyed Susan)*
Salvia spp. (sage)***
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)*
Maianthemum racemosum (false Solomon's seal)*
Solidago spp. (goldenrod) ***
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)*
Talinum spp. (fame flower)*
Veronicastrum virginicum (culver's root)*
Viola spp. (violet)**
Xerophyllum spp. (bear grass)

Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Matteuccia pensylvanica (ostrich fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Rarely damaged
Betula papyrifera (paper birch)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Leucothoe fontanesiana (drooping leucothoe)

Seldom severely damaged
Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)
Cornus sericea (red osier dogwood)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust)
Ilex glabra (inkberry)
Kalmia latifolia (moutain laurel)
Pinus resinosa (red pine)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Picea glauca (white spruce)
Sassafras albidum (common sassafras)

Plants occasionally severely damaged
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Acer nigrum (black maple)
Amelanchier arborea (downy serviceberry)
Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny serviceberry)
Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)
Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)
Hamamelis virginiana (common witch-hazel)
Hydrangea arborescens (smooth hydrangea)
Ilex verticillata (winter-berry)
Ilex montana (mountain winter-berry)
Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)
Potentilla fruticosa (bush cinquefoil)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus montana (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
Rhododendron carolinianum (Carolina rhododendron)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Tilia americana (basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Tsuga caroliniana (Carolina Hemlock)
Viburnum lantanoides (hobble-bush)

Plants frequently severely damaged
Abies balsamea (balsam fir)
Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)
Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar)
Prunus serotina (wild black cherry)
Prunus americana (wild plum tree)
Prunus nigra (wild plum tree)
Rhododendron catawbiense (catawba rhododendron)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter-bloom azalea)
Taxus canadensis (American yew)
Thuja occidentalis (American arborvitae)

Chinery, David. 1993. Resistance of Annuals, Biennials, Perennials, Ground Covers and Vines to Deer Damage. Fact sheet. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester Co., Valhalla, New York.
Cullina, William. 2000. The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts.
Deer-resistant Landscape Nursery. 2001. Deer resistant plants. Clare, Michigan. URL:
Sargione, M. J., P. D. Curtis, M. E. Richmond. 1991. Resistance of Woody Ornamental Plants to Deer Damage. Fact sheet. Home-ground Garden Publication, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wildlife Resource Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Publication Date: 
Thursday, April 23, 2020