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Nov 12, 2016 6:06 AM CST


I have a question for any of you plagued by heavy deer browsing. About 5 yrs ago I moved to a woodland property that had been greatly disturbed (previous owners were most likely avid hunters and had set up property to trap deer, i.e. cut trees to create trails and stacked logs around the trails to hinder escape...I presume...) so the deer suddenly had easy access to this beautiful previously undisturbed piece of Appalachian woodland. I have tried to block these trails so that the damaged areas might have a chance to regrow but NOTHING is going to reduce deer pop around here so the damage is most likely permanent. My question is: to those of you who are familiar with understories of Lindera benzoin (spicebush) shrubs, have you noticed that in heavily browsed areas, these plants grow like trees? There are no leaves or buds left on the plants below 5 ft and the plants themselves appear to reach 15-20 ft very fast as a result! I went to a friend's house in NC where there are no deer and she had a shrub...I didn't even recognise it because it was "bushy" and only 4 ft was a spicebush! Just wondering if anyone knows whether this kind of damage shortens the life of these plants or if it's a successful adaptation that allows them to survive? It's hard to tell around here because recruitment of L. benzoin is so high and fast.
Nov 16, 2016 5:28 PM CST
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Farmer Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Dog Lover Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
That is absolutely normal behavior for that species, and many other understory species affected by above-average deer browse.

I see this situation all over the park properties we steward here in Louisville, KY - where deer access is unimpeded by hunting or any other natural control.

Lindera benzoin is not "naturally" a tree or a shrub exclusively. Its habit will be dependent on many factors, environmentally and climatically. Cold damage, physical damage from browsing or ice/snow loads, girdling by smaller furry rodentia - all these contribute to changing forms in this species and others.
Avatar for upat5
Nov 17, 2016 3:56 PM CST

Thanks for your reply, John. What methods (if any) do you use to impede deer in the parks? I am always looking for new ways....right now I am using a network of fishing line visual barriers and though they have discouraged deer visitation in some areas they are not impermeable to the odd emboldened individual! Methods that one might use in a garden generally don't work here because the area is too open and large to be fenced or barricaded.
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