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March 08, 2021 2 min read

Deer eat a wide range of nuts, so it’s a good thing to ask if your buckeyes will become fodder too.

Buckeyes are nuts are grow on trees. They are small, shiny, and dark brown with a light tan spot to one side. Buckeye trees can be mostly found in Ohio, and folks say that it looks like the eye deer and a carrying buckeye bring good luck.

Besides the folklore, buckeye and horse chestnut belongs to the same genus, Aesculus. They are also considered poisonous to birds and animals. However, many people cultivate buckeye, especially the yellow variety, as an ornamental tree. There are also other species, such as the bottlebrush buckeye, that creates a gorgeous flowering shrub. So you might ask – do deer eat buckeyes?

Deer and buckeyes

All parts of the buckeye tree, including its nut-like seeds, are moderately toxic. They have been known to kill grazing cattle. However, even as buckeyes can be harmful to livestock and humans, birds will eat them with no adverse effects.

For deer, buckeyes are low on their preferred list of nuts. There are also no clear studies on whether deer can eat buckeyes. In contrast, squirrels eat them and are thought to be the only animals that can eat buckeyes without any effects.

Nevertheless, some natives have found deer grazing on buckeye nuts. Yet, the usual occurrence is a few nibbles at a time.

Deer and cattle are ruminants, which may be one reason, while buckeyes can be deer resistant.

However, no plant is entirely deer-proof. So, there’s a good chance deer will eat buckeyes as a last resort.

Red buckeyes are incredibly deer resistant. They are deciduous clump-forming shrub mostly added for their gorgeous red flowers and large interesting fruits.

Other considerations

Buckeyes can cause troublesome little in your lawn as their leaves cause a great deal of petal litter once it decomposes. Their nut-like fruits can also become a nuisance when you wish to mow your lawn. You may also need to minimize planting problem by protecting them against the wind and provide adequate moisture if you live in a hotter region. Buckeyes are also toxic to humans, so you should avoid planting them if you have kids around you.

When to protect your trees against deer?

Deer may not eat buckeye trees, but you may need to protect them from deer if you have other trees in the vicinity. Fencing is one of the best ways to do so and get the height right. Usually, we recommend an eight to ten-foot-high fence. But you can also use a shorter one of six-foot if you are going for a stockade or double-wall. Repellents are also excellent as long as you keep applying them and rotate between them to keep the deer surprised.

Concluding thoughts

Do deer eat buckeyes? No, they don’t. Buckeyes are poisonous to ruminants like cattle, so deer are not far behind. Buckeyes are also toxic to humans and many other animals, so you need to consider the drawbacks before choosing to cultivate them.

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