Deer are silent but cause many cries of anguish
This winter I staked 3-foot burlap screens around 4
lilac standards when I discovered the trunk of one was severely
damaged by a stag's horn rubbings all the way up and down. The bark
has been removed by this rubbing and the white cambium underneath
has been exposed. Can I/should I do more at this point to protect
it? Do you recommend wrapping, for instance? The stakes and burlap
were all I had during the winter so I went with them. -W.W.
That's what we do. When the damage is already done we put tall,
sturdy stakes all around the plant a foot or so out, close together
so a deer can't easily get his head between to rub. Plant the
stakes firmly enough that if a deer wants to rub he can rub on
We try, and see that arboretums in deer country try, also, to
put preventive protection around trees and shrubs once they're
about an inch in diameter up to about 3 inches. The deer seem to
like things about that size, thick but with enough flexibility to
spring back when rubbed.
Dang deer. So beautiful, such trouble!
If you find a rub (or
rabbit- or mouse chewed bark) right when it's happened, you can
try to protect the exposed cambium so it stays moist. Then, hope
the plant can grow quickly enough in spring to seal over the
However, the reality is that once exposed, cambium dries quickly
and then dies.
When you choose something as a cover, keep in mind that dry air,
not cold, is the main problem, even in winter. The cambium cells
harden during autumn to protect themselves against freezing. The
bark provides some insulation but the cells underneath still have
to be prepared for freezing temperatures. So wax paper held in
place with an ace bandage may be better protection than something
that doesn't fit tight, such as rigid tubing.
Hmmm. We're wondering whether the cool wax used to remove body
hair might work as a quick bandage?