All photographs are copyrighted and are the property of E. Brunner.
Native or Introduced to Illinois: native
Natural Habit in Illinois: river floodplains; upland forests
Leaf: The single or doubly compound leaves have small leaflets 1 to 1-1/2 inches long with rounded tips. They are dark green above and lighter or yellow-green beneath with margins very slightly toothed.
Flower: White-green, displayed on 2 inch long racemes, not showy, but very fragrant. Present May to June.
Fruit: A very distinctive, 6 to 8 inches long, flattened, red-brown pod that becomes dry and twisted. Contains many oval, dark brown seeds, 1/3 inch long. Maturing September to October. The green seed pods contain a honeylike fluid from which the tree gets its name.
Twig: May be either stout or slender, prominently zigzag, red-brown to brown in color with branched thorns. Lateral buds are very small and sunken.
Bark: Gray-brown to bronze, later breaking into long, narrow, scaly ridges. Often displaying clusters of large, branched thorns.
Size/Form/Shape: A medium-size tree with a short bole and an airy, spreading crown.
is widely planted as a hardy and fast-growing ornamental.
It is often used in extreme urban stress areas such as parking lot
islands and sidewalk tree squares and has been planted for erosion control, for
windbreaks and shelterbelts, and as a vegetation pioneer for rehabilitation of
strip-mine spoil banks. Because of
the small leaflets and open crown, the trees cast a light shade that permits
shade-tolerant turfgrass and partial-shade perennials to grow underneath.
Cultivars have been selected for crown shape and branch angles and leaf
color, and most are both thornless and fruitless.
Over-use of honey-locust in cities has led to recommendations that its
use be discouraged until adequate biodiversity is restored.
Honey-locust wood is dense, hard, coarse-grained, strong, stiff,
shock-resistant, takes a high polish, and is durable in contact with soil.
It has been used locally for pallets, crates, general construction,
furniture, interior finish, turnery, firewood, railroad ties, and posts (fence
posts may sprout to form living fences), but it is too scarce to be of economic
importance. The wood also was
formerly valued for bows.
The geographic range of honey-locust probably was extended by Indians who
dried the legumes, ground the dried pulp, and used it as a sweetener and
thickener, although the pulp also is reported to be irritating to the throat and
somewhat toxic. Fermenting the pulp
can make a potable or energy alcohol. Native
Americans sometimes ate cooked seeds, they have also been roasted and used as a
Honey-locust pods are eaten by cattle, goats, deer, opossum, squirrel,
rabbits, quail, crows, and starling. White-tailed
deer and rabbits eat the soft bark of young trees in winter, and livestock and
deer eat young vegetative growth. Honey-locust
is planted around wildlife plots and into pastures and hayfields to provide
high-protein mast. Cattle do not
digest the seeds, but sheep do.
County Distribution Map for Illinois:
Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites:
- Illinois Plant Information Network (ILPIN) @ http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/delaware/ilpin/ilpin.html#Background
- List of Woody Plants Native or Naturalized in Illinois @ http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/woody.html
- Tree Species @ http://ostermiller.org/tree/species.html
- Index to Eastern/Central Trees @ http://www.arborday.org/trees/ECtreelist.html
- ISU Forestry Extension Identification of Common Trees of Iowa @ http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pages/tree/
- Key to Leaves of Virginia Trees @ http://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/forsite/key/intro.htm
- List of Native Trees for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois @ http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/treetable.html
- The PLANTS Database @ http://plants.usda.gov/
The information below is from the National Arbor Day Foundation. This information can be viewed in the original (source) form by visiting The National Arbor Day Foundation at http://www.arborday.org.
(The information below is for the Thornless Honeylocust - Gleditsia triacanthos inermis)
Sun Exposure: This honeylocust prefers full sun
Soil Type: The Thornless Honeylocust grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, rich, sandy, wet, wide range, moist bottomlands, soils of limestone origin; salt and drought tolerant.
Moisture: The tree has moderate flooding and drought tolerance.
Growth Rate: This tree grows at a fast growth rate.
Hardiness Zones: 3 - 9
This honeylocust can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map.