Oval Background


Botanical Name:

Gleditsia triacanthos

Common Name:

Honeylocust,Honey locust,Common honey locust,Thorny common honey locust,Honey shucks locust,Sweet locust,Thorny locust,Honey shucks,Sweet bean tree,Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis


Learn moreThis section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Honey locust" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (October 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) Detail of thorns The honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos, can reach a height of 20m (66 ft.). They exhibit fast growth, but live a medium-long life span of about 120 years. The leaves are pinnately compound on older trees but bipinnately compound on vigorous young trees. The leaflets are 1.5–2.5 cm (⁄8–1 in) (smaller on bipinnate leaves) and bright green. They turn yellow in the autumn. Honey locusts leaf out relatively late in spring, but generally slightly earlier than the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). The strongly scented cream-colored flowers appear in late spring, in clusters emerging from the base of the leaf axils. The fruit of the honey locust is a flat legume (pod) that matures in early autumn. The pods are generally between 15–20 cm (6–8 in). The seeds are dispersed by grazing herbivores such as cattle and horses, which eat the pod pulp and excrete the seeds in droppings; the animal's digestive system assists in breaking down the hard seed coat, making germination easier. In addition, the seeds are released in the host's manure, providing fertilizer for them. Honey locust seed pods ripen in late spring and germinate rapidly when temperatures are warm enough. Honey locusts commonly have thorns 3–10 cm (1 ⁄4–4 in) long growing out of the branches, some reaching lengths over 20 cm (8 in); these may be single, or branched into several points, and commonly form dense clusters. The thorns are fairly soft and green when young, harden and turn red as they age, then fade to ash grey and turn brittle when mature. These thorns are thought to have evolved to protect the trees from browsing Pleistocene megafauna, which may also have been involved in seed dispersal, but the size and spacing of them is less useful in defending against smaller extant herbivores such as deer. Thornless forms (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) are occasionally found growing wild and are available as nursery plants. Hybridization of honey locust with water locust (G. aquatica) has been reported.

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Bloom Time

Spring, May, Jun

Plant Type

Trees, Native Plant, Tree, Perennial, Not climbing


Woody, Perennial

Plant Height

72-100 ft.


Small greenish yellow 2 to 3 inch long, narrow, hanging, clustered flowers. Flowers have a sweet fragrance and bloom for about two weeks in summer.


Female flowers are replaced by reddish-brown, twisted, flat bean pods 12 to 18 inches long containing oval seeds appear in the summer and can remain on the tree through the winter. Seed pods twist into corkscrew shapes and can be messy to maintain once they fall off the tree. The pods turn black when ripe and contain a sweet-tasting sticky substance that gives Honeylocust its common name., Brown

How to Grow


Average, Medium


Full Sun, Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day), Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours), Part Shade


Moist, deep, well-drained soil. Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay

Heat Tolerant


Cold Tolerant



Attractive, Shade tree





Small Mammals


Plant has thorns or prickles.

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