75 Best Browse for Wildlife

Chestnut oak flowers and leaves.

The list below ranks in order the top 75 favorite wildlife preferred browse. Browse is defined as small twigs, buds and leaves of woody trees, shrubs and vines, and occasionally bark.

The ranking is determined using two criteria to describe the role of the plant food in animals’ diets:

1) the number of species that utilizes the food,

2) how significant the food is within an individual species overall diet

So while a food may not be popular across a large number of species, it still could be strongly preferred by a few species. By coordinating with a rehabber’s specific needs, a forager can decide which plants to best target for collection.

Be sure to check any item listed below  in the database to see if there are any toxicological warnings associated with that plant or part of the plant.

Common Name Botanical Name Part Eaten
1 oak Quercus spp. browse/bark
2 maple Acer spp. browse/bark
3 maple, box elder Acer negundo browse/bark
4 poison ivy, eastern Toxicodendron radicans browse/bark
5 aspen Populus spp. browse/bark
6 aspen, quaking Populus tremuloides browse/bark
7 blueberry Vaccinium spp. browse/bark
8 willow Salix spp. browse/bark
9 dogwood Cornus spp. browse/bark
10 hazelnut Corylus spp. browse/bark
11 elderberry Sambucus spp. browse/bark
12 pine Pinus spp. browse/bark
13 birch Betula spp. browse/bark
14 viburnum Viburnum spp. browse/bark
15 serviceberry Amelanchier spp. browse/bark
16 hazelnut, beaked Corylus cornuta browse/bark
17 blackberry Rubus spp. browse/bark
18 spruce Picea spp. browse/bark
19 maple, striped Acer pensylvanicum browse/bark
20 elm Ulmus spp. browse/bark
21 ash Fraxinus spp. browse/bark
22 hemlock Tsuga spp. browse/bark
23 fir Abies spp. browse/bark
24 dogwood, gray Cornus racemosa browse/bark
25 birch, paper (white birch) Betula papyrifera browse/bark
26 birch, yellow Betula alleghaniensis browse/bark
27 hawthorn Crataegus spp. browse/bark
28 sassafras Sassafras albidum browse/bark
29 dogwood, flowering Cornus florida browse/bark
30 blueberry, lowbush Vaccinium angustifolium browse/bark
31 birch, gray Betula populifolia browse/bark
32 bunchberry Cornus canadensis browse/bark
33 dogwood, red-osier Cornus sericea browse/bark
34 cottonwood, eastern Populus deltoides browse/bark
35 elder, red Sambucus racemosa browse/bark
36 mountain ash, American Sorbus americana browse/bark
37 sumac Rhus spp. browse/bark
38 basswood, American Tilia americana browse/bark
39 pine, white eastern Pinus strobus browse/bark
40 hickory Carya spp. browse/bark
41 white-cedar, northern (arborvitae) Thuja occidentalis browse/bark
42 fir, balsam Abies balsamea browse/bark
43 maple, mountain Acer spicatum browse/bark
44 poplar, balsam Populus balsamifera browse/bark
45 blackberry, Himalayan Rubus armeniacus browse/bark
46 mountain ash Sorbus spp. browse/bark
47 alder Alnus spp. browse/bark
48 sweet fern Comptonia peregrina browse/bark
49 hornbeam, American Carpinus caroliniana browse/bark
50 snowberry Symphoricarpos spp. browse/bark
51 rose Rosa spp. browse/bark
52 sweetgum Liquidamber styraciflua browse/bark
53 beech, American Fagus grandifolia browse/bark
54 squashberry Viburnum edule browse/bark
55 teaberry, eastern (wintergreen) Gaultheria procumbens browse/bark
56 ash, black Fraxinus nigra browse/bark
57 oak, white Quercus alba browse/bark
58 oak, northern red Quercus rubra browse/bark
59 sumac, staghorn Rhus typhina browse/bark
60 viburnum, mapleleaf Viburnum acerifolium browse/bark
61 dogwood, alternate-leaf Cornus alternifolia browse/bark
62 sweet bay Magnolia virginiana browse/bark
63 hackberry, common Celtis occidentalis browse/bark
64 hackberry Celtis spp. browse/bark
65 honeysuckle, Japanese Lonicera japonica browse/bark
66 pear Pyrus spp. browse/bark
67 ash, white Fraxinus americana browse/bark
68 witch hazel, American Hamamelis virginiana browse/bark
69 chokeberry Aronia spp. browse/bark
70 birch, sweet Betula lenta browse/bark
71 tamarack Larix laricina browse/bark
72 larch Larix spp. browse/bark
73 buckthorn Rhamnus spp. browse/bark
74 walnut, black Juglans nigra browse/bark
75 pawpaw Asimina triloba browse/bark

What Criteria is Used for the Ranking the Lists?

The main resources used to build this website usually rated foods in three levels of preference: high, middle and low. But, a plant may be high preference in Michigan but lower preference in Virginia.  So the preference factor has some built in limitations. Still, it is factor #1 in the algorithm.

The second factor considered was how many species of animals ate the part of the plant in consideration. A seed that 29 species ate would outrank a seed that only 5 species ate.

From a foragers perspective, it would be ideal to collect the most  highly preferable foods that feed the widest range of rehabilitation animals, right? Well maybe not.

Consider if a rehabilitator only works with foxes? To research which foods would be most beneficial in the “fox only” scenario, the only consideration that she would care about is the most preferred food for foxes, not how many other species ate it.

So the ranking lists are the most general broad interpretation of the data. You will want to generate your own lists from the search feature to find out just what you want to target for collection.

References Used with Permission:

The Fire Effects Information System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).

Fire Effects Information System (2017) Plant species ecology literature reviews. Retrieved various dates from https://www.feis-crs.org/feis/

Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., Nelson, A.L. (1951). American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. New York: Dover Publications.

Scott, M. (2013). Songbird Diet Index. National  Wildlife  Rehabilitators  Association, St. Cloud, MN.