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Honey locust

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**Description and Characteristics**:
– The honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos, can reach a height of 20–30m (65–100ft) with a medium lifespan of about 120 years.
– Leaves are pinnately compound on older trees and bipinnately compound on young trees, with leaflets measuring 1.5–2.5cm (12–1in) that turn yellow in autumn.
– Flowers are cream-colored and appear in late spring, while the fruit is a flat legume (pod) that matures in early autumn.
– Morphologically, it is a deciduous tree bearing compound leaves with small leaflets, long thorns on branches, and leguminous pods containing seeds.

**Cultivation and Distribution**:
– Cultivars of honey locust are popular ornamental plants in North America, known for their tolerance of urban conditions, compacted soil, and drought.
– The tree thrives in temperate climates and can tolerate a range of soil types, making it widely cultivated in urban areas.
Honey locust is found in various habitats such as forests, fields, and along riverbanks.

**Ecological Role and Agriculture**:
– The honey locust provides food and shelter for wildlife, fixes nitrogen in the soil through symbiotic relationships, and helps prevent soil erosion.
– However, it is considered a major invasive weed in Australian agricultural regions, choking waterways, destroying pasture, and out-competing grasses and crops in monocropping regions.
– In the Midwest US, it is classified as a weed tree and pest, causing issues for ranchers and farmers.

**Uses and Benefits**:
– The tree has various uses, including:
– Food: Edible pulp inside pods is consumed by wildlife and livestock, and seeds have nutritional potential for human consumption.
– Timber: Produces high-quality, durable wood for furniture, posts, and historically for shipbuilding.
– Traditional Medicine: Pods are used in traditional medicine by Native Americans.
– Landscaping: Ornamental tree used in landscaping due to its drought resistance and low maintenance.

**Nitrogen Fixation and Taxonomy**:
– There is a dispute over the ability of Gleditsia to fix nitrogen, with some sources suggesting non-nodulating legumes like honey locust can fix nitrogen.
– Taxonomically, the honey locust belongs to the Fabaceae family, Gleditsia genus, and triacanthos species.
– It is native to North America and has been widely cultivated for its benefits and uses.

Honey locust (Wikipedia)

The Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust), also known as the thorny locust or thorny honeylocust, is a deciduous tree in the family Fabaceae, native to central North America where it is mostly found in the moist soil of river valleys. Honey locust trees are highly adaptable to different environments, and the species has been introduced worldwide. Outside its natural range it can be an aggressive, damaging invasive species.

Honey locust
A honey locust in Washington state shows its fall color

Secure  (NatureServe)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Genus: Gleditsia
G. triacanthos
Binomial name
Gleditsia triacanthos
Native range
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