Skip to Content

Do Deer Eat Poppies? (7 Things To Know!)

Sharing is caring!

Deer eat poppies; however, they rarely do so. Deer will avoid poppies because of their strong fragrance and taste. People with poppy flowers in their gardens, especially in areas with plenty of deer, usually experience minimal invasions because the deer go for more appealing plants.

Do you want to know what part of poppies deer will eat, if all poppies are deer resistant, and some interesting facts about poppies?

Then read on!

Do deer like to eat poppy leaves and stems?

Poppy field looking more beautiful due to the golden sunlight falling on them.
A poppy field looks more beautiful when the golden sunlight falls on them.

Yes, poppies brighten up your garden, they come in so many different colors, and their scent is simply relaxing.

That is why you will find poppy plants in almost all the gardens, especially in places like California and New Mexico.

However, deer don’t consider any of these factors. As wild animals, their main aim is to find and eat plants that will provide them with the required nutrients.

Given that poppy leaves and stems have milky sap, deer will not eat them unless they are experiencing extreme hunger.

Latex is the milky sap when a deer bites poppy leaves or stems.

Latex helps the plant heal and also acts as a defense against animals that would want to eat it. The milky sap is bitter and irritates the deer so much that they will only take a few bites and be on their way.

Do deer like to eat poppy seeds?

Deer do not eat poppy seeds because of two main reasons.

1. The seeds are too small.

Bucks like to eat plants that will fill their stomachs. If you consider the tiny size of poppy seeds, deer will have to eat at least five hundred grams to feel a difference.

2. Poppyseed pots have a strong scent.

Studies have shown that deer don’t like fragrant plants; such plants confuse the deer’s sense of smell.

Mr. Stefano Fiorini, a researcher at the Indiana University Bloomington, argued that fragrant plants mask a deer’s sense of smell which deer don’t like because it prevents them from being aware of their environment. Stefano stated that because deer are prey animals, they need to be constantly aware of their surroundings.

Their sense of smell and hearing are critical features of their defense. Hence a plant with a pungent smell interferes with that. Therefore, they will ignore them and eat plants with light or no scent.

Can baby deer eat poppies?

Fawns, like all children, have high levels of curiosity, and they will thus try and chew on all they can get their mouths on.

Primarily, deer are opportunistic feeders; they will eat anything within reach and do not offer any resistance.

So calves may eat poppy plants, but when they experience the irritation from the poppies’ milky sap, they will steer clear of the plant.

In addition, when fawns stop entirely depending on their mother’s milk, they usually mimic what the mothers do. This means they will eat what the doe eats most of the time.

Read Also: Do Deer Eat Bananas?

Can deer smell poppies?

As earlier stated, deer have a powerful sense of smell, which is ten thousand times more sensitive than humans. No wonder a deer can smell you coming from half a mile away.

Therefore, deer can smell poppies and consequently avoid the plant or eat a few if they are hungry.

Are all poppies deer resistant?

Poppy plants belong to the family Papaveraceae and subfamily Papaveroideae.

More than seventy species of poppies are grown worldwide, but scientists are yet to find out if all of them are deer resistant.

We know that some 12 varieties, which are also the most common, have shown good resistance to deer. They are

  • Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)
  • Shirley poppy/ Flanders poppy(Papaver rhoeas)
  • Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)
  • Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule)
  • Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis Grandis)
  • Plume poppy (Macleaya cordata)
  • Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
  • California poppy (Eschscholzia carlifornica)

Will poppies grow back after a deer attack?

Even though deer don’t fancy poppies, that does not mean that your garden is immune to invasions; they may occur occasionally.

When they do occur, you may be afraid, wondering if your beautiful poppy flowers will grow back; they will.

Concerning poppies’ fragrance and taste, it’s implausible that the damage will be significant. All you will have to do is care for them, and after some time, you will have a blooming and vibrant garden.

However, it would be best if you put measures to prevent deer invasions. These measures include:

Set up a fence around the garden; the fence should be tall because deer can quickly jump over anything below eight feet.

Mount wind chimes all around the garden so that the sounds may come from different directions. 

Deer are intelligent animals. If they learn that the sound only comes from a specific direction, they will ignore it and munch on the plants.

Motion sensing sprinklers will sprinkle water when the deer get within range.

Let your dog hang out in the garden, deer will smell it and keep away, but if they try to invade, your loyal friend will scare them away.

Benefits of growing poppies in your backyard

Almost everyone who has poppies in their backyard has never regretted the move due to certain factors.

Poppies are easy to grow, and they come in different categories: the perennial, annual, and biennial flowers.

In addition, there are over seventy species that you can choose from to find the type best suited to your area’s climatic conditions.

Many poppy varieties are hardy and will even grow in soils with poor drainage.

Poppy flowers make your garden look radiant, and when you grow different colors, they will provide plenty of aesthetic appeals.

You can use poppies to distract the deer from your other vegetables. To do so, plant the poppies all around the garden and randomly between the other plants.

Therefore, when deer pass by your garden and notice the poppies, they won’t pay any attention and move on.

Interesting facts and stats about poppies

Some poppy species like the Himalayan poppy are monocarpic, which means they die immediately after flowering.

Poppies will bloom from early spring to early summer in most temperate zones.

China, Singapore, and Taiwan have banned the use of poppy seeds as food ingredients. These countries argue that people may use poppy seeds to grow opium poppy. Also, eating a few seeds may lead to false drug test results.

In ancient Egypt, the emblem of Osiris, the god of death, was in the shape of a poppy flower.

The seed head of the opium poppy has milky sap (latex), which scientists use to make morphine. Morphine is a drug that helps ease moderate to severe body pains. Doctors mostly recommend the cure to cancer patients and people with migraines.

People wear poppies on Remembrance Day to honor the sacrifices made by soldiers all over the globe in world war I.

Poppy seeds have plenty of health uses, such as constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, cough, and asthma.

You can also use poppy seeds to make porridge, cakes, glazed doughnuts, and pastries. Manufacturers use oil from poppy seeds to make varnish, paint, and soap.

Priests used poppies in the burial rights of the rich in ancient Greece.

Sharing is caring!