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Do Deer Eat Pine Trees? (Quick Answers)

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The tender, beautiful mammal we know as deer tends to feed on our evergreen friends. But which pine trees do deer eat? There are different species of deer as well as different species of trees that have to be taken into consideration. Let’s dive in to find out more.

Do deer eat pine trees?

Deer eat pine trees because they are herbivores. Pine trees are tall, so deer generally prefer other plants, but deer will feed on pine trees if there’s a shortage of good alternatives. This behavior is more visible in winter. Smaller weak pine trees are more prone to invasions from deer.

Do deer like to eat pine trees?

Deer will always prefer other trees over pine trees. But deer often nibble on fragile young pine trees. They will eat anything green to survive, so a hungry deer will eat pine trees when it comes to heating generation and survivability.

Weather conditions, geography, source of food determine what deer will devour on. But without the hassles, deer are picky eaters. They prefer clover, orchard grass, chicory, and other high-protein crops such as kale, corn, and peas.

They will only feast on other plants when things are hard for them. Deers like common plants are Dhalia, Sunflower, Strawberry, tulips, daylilies, American arborvitae, blackberry, roses, plum, and yews.

Recently planted trees are more vulnerable to deer invasions. Deer eat the tiny pinecones, thin branches, and needles of pine trees. Apart from eating, pine trees make an excellent bed for deer.

Why do deer eat pine trees?

Deer are herbivorous, so in general to assume that your plants are not safe from them. But deer do not munch on every plant. They are picky too! Deer prefer other plants over pine trees at any moment, but they will pine trees due to the following factors.

Evergreen plants:

Pine trees are evergreen trees, and deer will eat anything evergreen. But they usually have other evergreen trees over pine trees.

Location and geography:

Pine trees grow from US hardiness zone 2 to 8. So, pine trees encompass a vast area of the United States. Therefore, it is natural to have more pine trees in some regions than others. So as an only food source, deer will eat them.

Weather condition:

Not every tree can survive the harsh winter cold. Some pine trees can even withstand negative 50-degree Fahrenheit. Deer needs food to survive this unforgiving winter season, so pine trees and other trees become their primary food source.

Shortage of other food:

Deer get less picky when they are hungry. So, if there is a shortage of food, deer will eat any evergreen trees.

What pine trees do deer eat?

Various pine trees grow in multiple places, and different species of deer eat other pine trees if available. Deer eat almost everything to survive. Here’s a complete list.

White pine:

Yes, deer eat white pines. This attractive tree is commonly visible in Eastern North America. They have practical usages such as medicines, foods, lumbers. Deer love to eat white pine buds.

Mugo pine:

One great thing about Mugo pine is that it is deer resistant. Still, deer become aggressive in winter. They will nibble upon the soft branches of Mugo pine trees.

Red pine:

Deer usually ignore red pine as they have no significant food value to them. But as said before, hungry deer will feed on anything evergreen. Red pines are usually considered deer resistant unless the situation is too much for deer.

Scotch pine:

Scotch pine is both a blessing and a headache to garden owners. Mule deer will devour on Scotch pine willingly, while White-tailed deer mostly stay away from it. Wildlife Resources suggest that Scotch pine trees should not be planted where mule deer lives.

Blue spruce pine:

This very popular ornamental tree is not usually eaten by deer. Deer, unless really hungry, seldom damage blue spruce pines. This plant is considered deer resistant in some regions.

Austrian pine:

Austrian pine is another deer-resistant tree. But this resistance depends on the region and other factors. A hungry deer will feed on anything evergreen that satiates their hunger, so this tree isn’t safe from hungry deer invasions.

Ponderosa pine:

Mule deer love to feast on Ponderosa pines. They will eat this plant the whole grazing season. Deer like the pine needles, pinecones, even the needles of slashed trees.

Norfolk pine:

Deer do not have any fascination with this plant. They will avoid this plant if they find better alternatives. But as stated before, deer will eat anything


Young buds and tips of jack pine are enriched in protein, thus, making them preferable to deer. Older deer usually avoid this plant, and if deer find other good alternatives, they will not bother jack pine. White-tailed deer feast on jack pines.

How to keep deer from eating pine trees?

This is a tricky job since you never know when a deer or herd of deer will invade your garden. Deer love to rub their antlers against trees, resulting in broken branches and barks and even dired young trees.

There are no universally accepted ways to deter deer away, but you can follow the following to keep your garden safe from unexpected invasions.

Physical barriers:

Fencing around the whole garden is an effective measure to keep deer out. Deer are good jumpers, so the fence should be at least six to eight inches tall. Choose woven-wire fencing for the best protection.

For deer inavsions, you can Wrap pine trees with chicken wire. Simply wrap the chicken wire around the tree so it does not hamper the steady growth of the tree. It is pretty effective to save younger trees from deer raids.

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Deer repellant:

There are various commercial deer repellants available. These repellants are bitter in the smell, so they keep deer away. Check usage manual before applying those.

For organic solutions, you can plant herbs such as artemisia, tansy, and yarrow. Plant these herbs all around your garden and around your pine trees to deter deer away. These herbs are perennial, so you do not have to worry about planting them every year.

Deer do not like the scent of soap, so many people hang soaps in mesh nets from branches.

Repellants are a temporary solution. In the long term, deer will come back. Deer repellants do not stop deer from rubbing their antlers against pine trees, ultimately hampering them.

Concentrated Deer Repellent - Bobbex | Deer, Elk, and Moose Deterrent Concentrate (32 oz.) B550100

Do coffee grounds keep deer away?

There is no scientific evidence that coffee grounds will keep deer away, but the pungent smell keeps away deer in most cases. No one can tell how efficiently this process works.

Deer have a great sense of smell, and coffee grounds are incredibly bitter in smell. So the coffee ground acts as the first layer of defense for deterring deer. The bitter and pungent smell of coffee grounds warns deer about the presence of humans.

Coffee grounds are not guaranteed to deter deer, but you can try this process and regularly observe for practical measures. If it goes unsuccessful, adopt other alternatives.

Do deer eat pine needles?

Although deer do not prefer pine needles, they eat them when necessary. Deer eat pine needles of the trees that are native to them. They will ignore pine needles if they find other, more preferable foods.

Deer will eat pine needles of Red pine, Mugo pine, White pine, and Austrian pine. While deer prefer some pine needles over others, there is really no way of telling before which tree a deer will devour on.

In order to keep deer away from your precious pine trees, you can build a good fence around the trees. Commercial repellants work fantastically to keep deer out.

Will pine trees grow back after deer eat them?

Deer often nibble on pine trees when moving with the herd. Slight damages like eating leaves, needles, buds, pinecones will not harm your pine trees. They will regrow when spring comes.

But young pine trees are the most vulnerable to deer invasions. Deer can eat off young and fragile pine trees. Their antlers can cause the branch and stem to bend. In that case, there are slight chances of regrowth.

Final Thoughts

Pine trees are not preferable to deer, but the trees are not safe either. Adult deer are not interested in pine trees at all. Whether a deer will eat pine trees or not depends on the environment and the deer’s motives. Some will switch to other food sources, while some will feast on pine trees.

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