Gleditsia triacanthos L. – Fabaceae – legume family

Honeylocust is one of the most common street trees in Albion.  This species is native to our area where it is near the northern limit of its geographical range in the midwest.  Wild honeylocust trees usually have large branched thorns on their stems.  Some of these thorns may be over a foot in length.  These would be dangerous street trees!  Fortunately, thornless cultivars are planted, although they have been known to sprout thorns at an advanced age.  Some of the trees in Albion are the ‘sunburst’ cultivar with yellow emerging foliage.

In Albion, honeylocust typically flowers in early to mid June.  The yellow-green flowers are not nearly as large or showy as the white flowers of the black locust.  Black locust has larger leaves that are all once-compound (leaf with leaflets).  Honeylocust produces once-compound leaves earlier in the growing season and twice-compound leaves (leaf with leaflets that have leaflets) later in the season.  The pods (legumes) of honey locust are purple-brown, often slightly twisted and can be nearly a foot long.  The pods of black locust are brown (silvery on the inside) and only 2-4 inches in length.  The pulp around the seeds of honey locust has a sweet taste, the probable origin of the name.  Black locust seeds have no such pulp.  Caution:  It is not advisable to eat the seeds of leguminous trees!

Honeylocust, sometimes written as honey locust, trees are planted in lot #1 and elsewhere in the Locust Lane neighborhood of Albion.  However, young black locust trees are the common trees in the undeveloped woods along Locust Lane.  Probably the neighborhood is named for the planted honeylocust trees.