Locust trees are fast growing trees, that belong to the pea family called Fabaceae or Leguminosae. There are numerous species of locust trees, that are classified in two different genera (Gleditsia and Robinia) of the above mentioned family. The most popular among them are black locust and honey locust trees. Both are deciduous trees, that can grow at a very fast rate and are mainly used as street trees, specimen trees, etc. This article deals with some locust tree facts, that can help you in identifying them. Read more on landscaping and gardening.
Black Locust Tree
Black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia), otherwise known as yellow locust or false acacia belongs to the genus Robinia, that has around ten species and several hybrids. This tree is native to the south-eastern parts of the United States. Black locust is fast growing and large-sized tree, that can reach a height of around 25 meters and a diameter of around one meter. However, some of the very old black locust trees have a height of around 50 meters and a diameter of 1.5 meter. The tree with numerous branches develops a dark and furrowed bark, as it ages. The leaves are pinnate with a length of around 25 centimeters. Each leaf possesses nine to nineteen leaflets, that are roughly oval in shape. One of the characteristic features of this tree is the short prickly thorns, that are located at the base of the leaves. This tree produces white flowers that are intensely fragrant and arranged on axillary, pendulous racemes. The flowers are also considered to be edible. The legume fruit of this tree contains seeds. Though, grown as a shade tree or for ornamental purposes, black locust is very much valued for its hard and durable wood. In some parts of the world, black locust tree is cultivated as a honey plant too. Apart from the flowers, the bark, pods and every other part of this tree are considered to be toxic, but, it is also said that the toxicity can be nullified through cooking.
Honey Locust Tree
Honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) is another common and popular locust tree, apart from the black locust. However, honey locust belongs to the genus Gleditsia, that is composed of 12 species of locust trees. Honey locust, native to the eastern regions of North America, is otherwise known as sweet bean, sweet locust and honey shuck. These fast growing trees with large-sizes, can grow to a height of around 30 meters and a diameter of around one meter. The bright green leaves are pinnate and oblong in shape. During early autumn, the leaves of honey locust tree turn bright yellow in color, just before falling. It has been observed that new leaves are produced earlier in honey locust, as compared to black locust. As in the case of black locust trees, honey locusts too carry thorns on their branches, at the base of leaves. However, in case of honey locust trees, the thorns are long (around 3 to 10 cm) and may be single or in clusters. As they emerge, the thorns are found to be green and soft. With age, it turns harder and reddish brown in color. Fully mature thorns are brittle in nature with an ash gray color. The strong-scented cream-colored flowers develop in clusters and the fruits (seed pods) develop in female trees. The pulp of the flat pods are edible. Honey locust trees are mostly grown as ornamental trees and are not honey plants. Like black locusts, honey locust tree wood is also highly valued.
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