Black Locust

Robinia pseudoacacia L. – Fabaceae – legume family

Black locust is an extremely invasive species that is native to the eastern U.S., but a bit further south than Michigan.  It has dangling aromatic clusters of beautiful cream-colored flowers. In the Albion area, black locust typically blooms in the first half of June, when one can get an appreciation for how common this species is in disturbed woodlots around town.

Black locust makes a handsome street tree.  Young wild populations of black locust often consist of closely-spaced individuals with annoying paired spines on their stems.  The most beautiful black locusts in Albion are probably the two trees on E Erie Street across from the fraternity houses.

The thin seed pods (legumes) of black locust are brownish on the outside and slightly silvery on the inside. The seed pod halves, which are a couple of inches long, are easily-recognizable natural litter, with the black seeds contrasting against the silvery inner surfaces of the fruit.  These things blow in the wind and lie around everywhere, far away from the trees.  No wonder this species is so common!

Black locust reportedly makes good fence posts.  The foliage is apparently toxic to cattle.