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January 14, 2021 3 min read

Do deer eat Japanese maples? If you are considering cultivating trees that deer do not prefer, Japanese maples may come to mind. This article talks about Japanese maple trees and sheds insights on how deer can damage these trees. That way, you can take proactive measures against deer damage.

Deer damage is a huge source of worry for most growers around areas with a high deer population. The search for trees, shrubs, herbs, and other plants that can be left alone by deer is entirely real. In general, deer do not like sticky, hairy, or feathery foliate. They also dislike strong, pungent scents.

However, that isn’t the case sometimes as deer can develop regional tastes. Some plants we consider deer resistant to one deer can be entirely palatable the next. If you plan to add Japanese maples to your fields, you might ask – do deer eat Japanese maples?

Japanese maple trees as deer-resistant plants

The short answer is no. In truth, Japanese maple trees are considered deer resistant. However, some growers have reported that deer eat all their maples. This incident is highly found in deer infested woody regions and during the winter. If maples are native to your region, a good chance deer have developed a taste for them and will most likely sample them from your trees.

Buck damage

Deer, especially the male deer, can still cause damage to your maple trees. Adult male deer often rub their antlers on the trunks of trees. Usually, they prefer smaller trees of less than 3 inches in diameter, which means they might attack your younger maple trees.

This ‘buck rub’ can peel off vast bark sections from a tree, thereby disfiguring it and may finally kill the tree. When you have large herds of deer in your area, you must protect young maple trees. In this case, planting deer-resistant tree selections will not prevent such habits. Hence, you should consider the following methods:


You can use odor repellents to discourage deer from coming too close to your trees. Farmers state that dried blood and predator urine are the most effective. However, you may have to reapply every time it rains or after watering your trees. We also recommend that you alternate between repellents to keep deer from becoming too comfortable.

Tree protectors

You can also consider using individual tree protectors to prevent buck rubbing. There are different kinds of tree protectors to choose from, and they are very affordable. You can choose from woven-wire mesh cylinders, polypropylene tubing to make your own from a plastic drainpipe. While you can keep the tree protectors on all year round, ensure they will provide space for your trees to develop effectively.


Fencing is one of the most effective ways to keep deer out of your property. However, your fence must be about 8 to 10 feet tall to be effective. You can also choose between an electric, wooden, or wire fence. Whichever you choose, ensure that deer cannot go over and underneath them. Naturally, fencing is expensive to install and maintain. It is also not aesthetically pleasing. However, fencing can protect your plants from deer damage for a very long time.

Concluding thoughts

Do deer eat Japanese maples? No, they don’t, except during a brutal winter, when maples are native to your region, or they cannot find more palatable food sources. However, they can cause damage to Japanese maple trees through buck rubbing. Therefore, you must protect your young plants by using protective coverings or completely fencing your property.

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