Deer-Resistant Trees

Bambi Generally Leaves These Alone

Kwanzan cherry tree
Kwanzan cherry tree. David Beaulieu

As with other types of plants (shrubs, perennials, etc.) used in foiling deer, "deer-resistant trees" is something of a misnomer. Few trees (especially young ones) will keep a desperate deer away.

So if you are a stickler for linguistic detail, instead of calling these trees "deer resistant," think of these trees as those that are not a deer's first picks to eat if given a choice.

Take a look at three separate lists, according to how the selected trees are used in landscaping such as flowering trees, shade or fall-foliage trees, and evergreen trees.

Flowering Trees

  • Red chestnut tree: The red chestnut tree (Aesculus x carnea) is a cross between the red buckeye tree and Aesculus hippocastanum. The latter is known to have toxic properties, which may account for why deer tend not to eat this plant.
  • Serviceberry: Amelanchier laevis 'Snowcloud' is a nice choice as a serviceberry to employ in your landscaping.
  • Kwanzan cherry 
  • Cornus kousa: This tree is also called Chinese or Japanese dogwood 
  • Silk trees: Although mimosa or "silk" trees (Albizia julibrissin) are deer-resistant, they are not a good choice for landscaping in North America, where they are invasive plants.
  • Hawthorn trees: The thorns implied in hawthorn's name may help deter deer from eating it.
Cornus Kousa
Cornus Kousa.

Andrea Kamal / Getty Images

Shade Trees or Fall-Foliage Specimens

While Sunburst honeylocust is better known for its spring foliage, tulip trees, many of the birches, and, of course, the maples are famous for their fall foliage.

Path in the drizzle
European birch trees. Kasper Hyppönen / Getty Images

Evergreen Trees

American holly trees have broadleaf evergreens. The other evergreens are deer-resistant trees that bear needles.

Colorado Blue Spruce
Maxfocus / Getty Images

There are many factors that influence whether a tree seems deer-resistant: How hungry the deer are, what other food choices they have, and the age (size) of the plant. Regional differences also come into play. You cannot simply dismiss the unpredictability factor of when deer browse your vegetable garden.

Blind chance may be the most frustrating factor of all. If you do not want to take the risk, you have the option of installing some type of deer fencing.

If you decide against fencing, consult the deer-resistant plant's index to access the lists of other types of plants (ornamental grasses, groundcovers, etc.) that Bambi tends to eat less than others.