Plants Less Tasty to Deer

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Compiled by the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, Inc.
Printable PDF version here

B=Blue V=Violet/Purple R=Red
O=Orange G=Green W=White
P=Pink Y=Yellow  



  • Arctostaphylos spp., Manzanita P/W – tough, thick foliage
  • Artemisia californica, Coastal Sagebrush – bitter, scented foliage
  • Baccharis spp., Coyote Brush W – waxy, scented foliage
  • Berberis spp., Barberry Y – prickly leaves
  • Calycanthus occidentalis, Spice Bush R – scented foliage
  • Carpenteria californica (1). Bush Anemone W – tough, shiny foliage
  • Ceanothus purpureus and cultivars (2), California Lilac B/V – spiny foliage
  • Dendromecon spp.(1), Bush Poppy Y – tough, waxy foliage
  • Epilobium canum latifolia and E. canum, California Fuchsia R/W – thin, tough foliage
  • Eriogonum fasciculatum (3), California Buckwheat W – dry, needle-like foliage
  • Erigeron glaucus, Seaside Daisy B/V – bitter/unpalatable
  • Eschscholzia californica, California Poppy O – poisonous
  • Fragaria spp., Wild Strawberry W – bitter/unpalatable
  • Iris spp., Iris B/R/V/W – bitter/unpalatable
  • Lupinus spp., Lupine B/P/V – poisonous
  • Mimulus spp., Monkey Flower O/P/R/Y– bitter/unpalatable
  • Monardella spp., Coyote Mint P/V/W – scented foliage
  • Penstemon spp., Penstemon, Beard-Tongue B/P/R/V – bitter/unpalatable
  • Prunus spp., Cherry W – bitter, waxy foliage
  • Rhus spp., Sumac P/W including R. integrifolia, R. laurina and R. ovata, Sugar Bush – scented foliage
  • Ribes spp., Currant P/R/W – scented foliage
  • Romneya coulteri, Matilija Poppy W – tough, bitter foliage
  • Salvia spp., Sage B/P/V/W – scented foliage
  • Sisyrinchium bellum and cultivars(1), Blue-Eyed Grass B/V – bitter/unpalatable
  • Tellima grandiflora, Fringe-Cups R/W – bitter/unpalatable


  • Aesculus californica, California Buckeye W – poisonous
  • Conifers (most) – tough, needle- or scale-like foliage
  • Lyonothamnus floribundus asplenifolius, Santa Cruz Ironwood W – scented foliage
  • Quercus spp., Oak (most), especially prickly varieties such as Q. agrifolia, Coast Live Oak
  • Sambucus mexicana, Elderberry W/Y – bitter
  • Washingtonia filifera, California Fan Palm – tough, stringy leaves

(1) Fresh foliage may occasionally be nibbled in spring
(2) Most Ceanothus with smooth (non-prickly) leaves, such as C. arboreus and C. griseus are not safe and will be eaten.
(3) Not safe: Eriogonum arborescens, Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat, Eriogonum crocatum, Conejo Buckwheat or Eriogonum giganteum, St. Catherine’s Lace