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Gleditsia triacanthos is often confused with:
Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis Tree
Gymnocladus chinensis Gymnocladus chinensis
Gymnocladus dioicus Bark
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Crataegus intricata
Quercus alba Full Form
Ulmus americana Full Form
Gleditsia triacanthos has some common insect problems:
Locust Borer
Gleditsia triacanthos has some common disease problems:
Pine Witches' Broom Mite

Gleditsia triacanthos

Previously known as:

  • Gleditsia ferox
Phonetic Spelling
gleh-DIT-see-uh try-a-KAN-thos
Description

Gleditsia triacanthos, or Honey locust, is a large tree in the pea family and found scattered throughout North Carolina, except for the high mountains. This tree can grow up to 80 tall with a 2 to 3 foot diameter single trunk and a broad, flat topped crown, and casting light shade that allows turf grass to grow underneath.  It sometimes grows in forests, but is more commonly found beside roads and fields.

Plant it in full sun in well-drained moist soil high in organic matter. It will tolerate partial shade, but does not grow in full shade. It also tolerates a wide variety of soil types and moisture conditions. The trunk and branches have stout thorns (to 3 inches long) that are singular or three-branched.  This tree is highly salt and wind tolerant, drought tolerant once established and resistant to damage by deer.  

Leaflets are small and do not have to be raked after they fall  from the tree, but the seed pods are unattractive on the tree and messy on lawns and walkways when they fall. This tree is not recommended for landscapes because of its thorns and seed pods. This tree can spread quickly and become a weed problem in some pasture areas. Mowing or cutting increases sprouts. Look for thornless varieties like Gleditsia trianthos var. inermis or thornless and podless cultivars like 'Sunburst'.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: 

Borers and web worms may be problems.  Honey locusts are susceptible to  leaf spot, canker, witches’ broom, powdery mildew and rust. 

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var inermis
    Thornless variety and source of all species cultivars.
  • 'Harve’
    Medium to large, thornless and seedless, winter hardy.
  • 'Impcole'
    AKA IMPERIAL, thornless, nearly seedless, rounded compact form 30' to 40' tall.
  • 'Skyline'
    Pyramidal growth with a central leader, thornless and nearly seedless, grows to 40' to 45' tall.
  • 'Sunburst'
    Yellow leaves, fruitless and thornless
Gleditsia triacanthos var inermis, 'Harve’, 'Impcole', 'Skyline', 'Sunburst'
Tags:
#bees#fall color#wildlife plant#large tree#moths#nectar plant#salt tolerant#tsc#high maintenance#air pollution tolerant#street tree#black walnut#food source#fast growing#NC native#deer resistant#long lifespan#thorny#Braham Arboretum#nesting sites#larval host plant#food source winter#food source fall#fall color yellow#butterfly friendly#tsc-t#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Gleditsia triacanthos var inermis
    Thornless variety and source of all species cultivars.
  • 'Harve’
    Medium to large, thornless and seedless, winter hardy.
  • 'Impcole'
    AKA IMPERIAL, thornless, nearly seedless, rounded compact form 30' to 40' tall.
  • 'Skyline'
    Pyramidal growth with a central leader, thornless and nearly seedless, grows to 40' to 45' tall.
  • 'Sunburst'
    Yellow leaves, fruitless and thornless
Gleditsia triacanthos var inermis, 'Harve’, 'Impcole', 'Skyline', 'Sunburst'
Tags:
#bees#fall color#wildlife plant#large tree#moths#nectar plant#salt tolerant#tsc#high maintenance#air pollution tolerant#street tree#black walnut#food source#fast growing#NC native#deer resistant#long lifespan#thorny#Braham Arboretum#nesting sites#larval host plant#food source winter#food source fall#fall color yellow#butterfly friendly#tsc-t#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Gleditsia
    Species:
    triacanthos
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Coarse grained, hard, strong wood is moderately resistant to decay. Timber used as fence posts, railroad ties, furniture, shipping pallets, tool handles, and fuel. Native Americans used the dried pulp from the seed pods as a sweetening agent and used its wood for bows. The thorns have been used as pins.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Eastern North America, NC to Mexico
    Distribution:
    Located throughout the United States (except for Washington state and Oregon) and Ontario, Canada.
    Wildlife Value:
    Bean pods are eaten by white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, hogs, opossums, and raccoons, deer browse young shoots in spring and bark of young trees in the winter. Butterflies, bees, and moths nectar at the flowers. It is the larval host plant for the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus).
    Edibility:
    The pulp inside the seed pod is edible, raw or cooked, but mostly consumed by livestock and wildlife.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 60 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers are replaced by reddish-brown, twisted, flat bean pods 12 to 18 inches long containing oval seeds appear in the summer and can remain on the tree through the winter. Seed pods twist into corkscrew shapes and can be messy to maintain once they fall off the tree. The pods turn black when ripe and contain a sweet-tasting sticky substance that gives Honeylocust its common name.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Radial
    Wheel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Small greenish yellow 2 to 3 inch long, narrow, hanging, clustered flowers. Flowers have a sweet fragrance and bloom for about two weeks in summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Feathery alternate pinnately compound 5 to 8 inches long leaves with 15 to 30, oval, 1 to 1 1/2 inch leaflets. Can also be found with bininnately compound leaves with 4 to 7 pairs of minor leaflets. Leaflets are shiny dark green above and yellow-green below.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    Narrow, flat plates that are initially grey-brown to bronze, smooth, with many horizontal lenticels. Later breaks into long, narrow curling plated bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Branches and trunk are armed with stout, rigid, three-forked spines that are 2 to 3 inches long.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Security
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Pollution
    Problems:
    Messy
    Spines/Thorns