and Deciduous Forest Trees

of Southern Ontario

Honey Locust
Gleditsia triacanthos

Location in Ontario:
Honey Locust is a Carolinian Tree that grows only in Essex County and on Pelee Island.

Honey Locust in spring, University of Guelph Arboretum

Genus Gleditsia: Members of this genus have doubly compound leaves and thorns. The flowers are in long clusters and trees are dioecious with male and female flowers on different trees. The fruit is a legume; seeds are contained in a flat pod. Parts of Gleditsia species are used as medicinal herbs.

Honey Locust prefers sandy soil, or moist areas along creeks and marshes.

Landscape Use:
This medium sized tree makes a beautiful lawn specimen with its delicate, doubly compound leaves. Honey Locust is used for windbreaks and soil erosion. It is resistant to pests and wind damage, and has moderately fast growth.

TREE FACT: Honey Locust fixes nitrogen in the soil providing an abundance of nitrogen for surrounding plants. Unlike other legumes, Honey Locust produces nitrogen without nodules on the roots.

Sharp thorns on branches and trunk

Leaves: The leaves are doubly compound, meaning that a single leaf is compound with compound leaflets.



Size: This large tree can reach 35 metres and 120 years of age.

Bark: The bark is brownish gray with scaly ridges and many large thorns.

Flowers: Honey Locust is polyamo dioecious. It has male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on different trees, with some perfect flowers on either. Flowers are greenish-white in long clusters and appear in May.


Fruit: Many seeds are contained in a bean-like pod (legume) which appears in summer. The pods are very long and fall off the tree during winter. They can be used as food for livestock.

Seed pods 

TREE FACT: Cows and small mammals like to eat the long seed pods because of their "honey-sweet" taste. The beans (seeds) are also nutritious, with 12% protein, and 42 % carbohydrates.

Wood: The wood is hard, heavy and durable. The wood is used for fence posts and rails.
Specific gravity: 0.65
Janka Hardness: 1580 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

Large Honey Locust (but the thornless type),
St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County