can someone tell me....do deer eat willow trees? I am in a very rural area and I need to plant deer resistant trees and I have access to free willows. I Live in zone 5 Alma MI if you have any tree suggestions I am open.
I haven't seen deer eating any of the ones growing along the creek. We have mostly black willow with one huge weeping willow that marks an old boundary line. I don't know what you're trying to accomplish by picking willow unless it's erosion control. I use T posts to hold a chicken wire fence out from around trees to protect them from deer. That works for a few trees here and there until they get big and tall enough that the deer can't trim them.
Yes they eat willow as do most herbivore critters. Willow is a very good food source.
Many dont notice though because they eat the tender leaves and shoots which actually stimulate more growth. Willows respond well to being eaten when its not constant and deer dont stand in one place for hours pigging out like the goats will. Deer nibble and run so willows do well with their fast growth rate.
"We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about."
The willows here are older trees. One is low enough that the deer could browse on some of the branches. Maybe I've missed the deer chowing down. Maybe that's why there are no young willows. They can easily be grown from cuttings.
A lot depends on how bad the winter is. If the deer can't find what they like to eat easily, they'll resort to other less palatible foods. The deer herd has been mismanaged in WV. There is very little understory in the forests. This past year the kill during hunting season was a lot lower. Earlier in the year there seemed to be quite a few, but I heard many didn't make it through the winter. Other times you have to almost kick them out of the way. Some folks feed corn, but deer normally don't have the gut bacteria to digest corn. They eat it, get full, but their bodies can't process it.
I suggest you plant what will serve your needs but plan on protecting the newly planted trees until they are tall enough so the deer can't kill them.
My DH took 6' galvanized wire fencing and made a circle around each of his fruit trees. That is how he used to protect them. There isn't enough space for a deer to jump in, and it keeps them from being able to reach. That would work just fine for any type of trees until they grew tall enough to be safe from deer. If you have a fenced garden, you could always grow them in pots, planted in the ground inside your garden, and then move them when they are taller.
I bought a 15' tall Golden Willow Tree last year, which has so far gone unmolested by deer (we have them thick here). It isn't protected either.
free is free... to me, it would be worth a try. I love weeping willow trees.
As far as any other suggestions go, I'm not sure I could offer any. There's a LOT of different trees... so many aspects to all of them.
Personally if I lived up north, I'd probably have a few spruces or something that I can't grow so easily down here. One thing I miss about New England is all the pine forests. There's an eastern hemlock in my mom's backyard that I love but, they don't grow down here.