Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Deer Country Extra: Medicine Deer Don't Take

Patterson Clark’s “Urban Jungle” column in yesterday’s Washington Post featured spicebush (Lindera benzoin), a native shrub that deer avoid. This plant was used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans, Clark points out, and its new leaves and twigs can be brewed into an herbal tea.

In his “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants,” Michael A. Dirr describes spicebush as a “good shrub for the border or naturalizing; I have seen it growing in deep woods where it is often rather thin and open; excellent for moist soil areas and semi-shady spots; in full sun it makes a splendid plant in flower and fall color; a harbinger of spring.” He sizes it as 6 to 12 feet in both height and width.

Dirr lists three cultivars: ‘Green Gold,’ with large yellow flowers; ‘Rubra,’ with deep-red flowers; and ‘Xanthocarpa,’ “an orange-yellow fruited form.” Fruit of the native plant is red.

Spicebush is listed as "seldom damaged" in the University of Maryland Extension's Fact Sheet 655, "Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage."

To read Patterson Clark’s “Urban Jungle” column, CLICK HERE.

To link to Fact Sheet 655, CLICK HERE.


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