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A "deer resistant" plant for your garden

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Eryngium yuccafolium, rattlesnake master, is in the same family as dill, fennel, and parsley, so you’d think it would be a larval food plant for the Black Swallow tail butterfly. But the peculiar leaves of this plant, unlike its relatives, are not relished by this insect. However, it is the larval food plants of two moths – a seed eating moth that feeds on flower heads and another that burrows into the stem or root.

Again, its unusual leaves, similar in texture and appearance to yucca, are thick and stringy and deer and rabbits tend to avoid it – remember nothing is absolutely deer proof, but you certainly couldn’t go wrong trying it in your pollinator garden – the Xerces society lists it as one of the natives that attracts the largest diversity of insects to its small flower heads.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.