Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos L.


The honey locust was named for the botanist Gottlieb Gleditsch and for its three-branched, 5 to 15-centimetre-long spines, which grow on the trunk and branches. It is a native of eastern-North America, where it is found on moist, rich soils from Texas northward to the 43rd parallel. It can tolerate drier situations, and is planted in tree belts in the prairies. The honey locust was introduced into Europe in about 1700 and is now abundant in the warm lowlands of western and southern Europe. It reaches a height of 30 to 45 metres, and has a smooth, blackish bark that peels offin large flakes. The inconspicuous greenish flowers are arranged in racemes four to seven centimetres long. The long, twisted pod remains on the tree until winter. The honey locust is a light-demanding tree and stands up well to cutting-back. It is found in parks, and sometimes in the vicinity of country dwellings, where it is used as a thorny hedge. The wood, which is hard with reddish brown heartwood, is highly prized. The unripe pods are a favourite food of livestock and the dye they yield is used in colouring fabrics.

Leaves: Alternate, even-pinnate and bipinnately compound, 12—30 cm long, with 10—15 pairs of narrow elliptic leaflets, the margin sparingly toothed.

Fruit: A reddish brown pod or legume

20—40 cm long. Seed: Yellow-brown, 1 cm long.