Trees of Iowa: An Interactive Key

Honey Locust
(Gleditsia triacanthos)

Leaves are alternate, compound, with thorns or spines.

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Honey locust (thorny locust, thorn tree) is a medium sized tree with pleasing, graceful foliage. The leaves are alternate, and both compound and double compound leaves on the same plant. The leaflets are 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long, with small widely spaced teeth. Buds are mostly embedded in the branch with only the tips protruding. 

Honey Locust LeavesHoney Locust Form
Hardiness: zones 4 through 9. Most cultivars do not perform well in heat, humidity and heavy soils.

Growth Rate:
Fast. As a young tree, it will grow 2 feet or more per year over a ten year period.

Mature Shape:
Upright, spreading. Very delicate and sophisticated silhouette.

70-80 feet

20-40 feet

Site Requirements:
Adaptable to most soils. Readily transplanted. One of our most adaptable native trees.

Flowering Dates: May - June

Seed Dispersal Dates: September - Winter

Seed Bearing Age: 10 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Generally every year, with abundant crops every year or two

Seed Stratification: Place seeds into boiling water and allow to cool overnight.

Twigs are slender, shiny, greenish brown to reddish brown. Older twigs, branches and the trunk are armed with single or three-branched or more thorns four to eight inches long. Trees without thorns make up approximately 10% of the natural population. The bark of honey locust is dark red-brown and fairly smooth; on older trees it breaks into long, thin, flat, longitudinal ridges with curled edges. 

Honey Locust BarkHoney Locust Twigs

Many selections of this species have been make for urban use because of its open foliage, tolerances to the urban environment and fairly fast
growth rate. 

Honey locust is a non-nitrogen fixing member of the legume family. Once considered to be relatively free of insects and disease pests, in recent years Mimosa webworm, cankers, and borers have become more common. Its sharp formidable thorns have and continue to be a major deterrent in the propagation and management of this species. Most landowner manage against this species and consider it a weed species which should be remove from most woodlands. 

Honey Locust FlowersHoney Locust Fruit

The reddish wood is strong, coarse grained and moderately durable. Its common uses have included fence post, railroad ties, furniture, interior woodwork and fuelwood


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Honey Locust Bark Honey Locust Form Honey Locust Leaves Honey Locust Twigs Honey Locust Twigs Honey Locust Bark Honey Locust Flowers Honey Locust Twigs Honey Locust Twigs Honey Locust Leaves Honey Locust Form