Honey Locust
Gleditsia triacanthos

Location in Ontario

Honey Locust is a Carolinian Tree that grows only in Essex County and on Pelee Island. It prefers sandy soil, and moist areas along creeks and rivers.

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.

In the Landscape
Honey Locust is a large tree that can reach 35 metres and 120 years of age. It 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, but it does have thorns!

Honey Locust in spring, University of Guelph Arboretum
leaves are doubly compound, meaning that a single leaf is compound with compound leaflets. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.
The bark is brownish gray with scaly ridges and many large thorns.
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 with the leaves. Flowers are very fragrant and are insect pollinated (small bees and flies).
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.

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.

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.

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

Honey Locust shows a lot of genetic variation over its range, making selective growing possible. It also readily forms hybrids with other species of Locust (not native to Canada).  

TREE FACT: There are thornless varieties of Honey Locust, as well as the popular Sunburst Locust, which is thornless, seedless and has lovely yellow foliage.

This large Honey Locust is a thornless variety, St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County

Link to United States Forest Service Silvics Manual for Honey Locust.