14. Honey Locust

(Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis)

Other Common Names: Thornless Honeylocust

Family: Leguminosae

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A lovely contrast between delicate greenery and red brick hardscape is afforded by the Honey Locusts in front of Loew Hall and the Engineering Library. Locusts are distinguished by their foot-long (30-centimeter long), honey-rich seedpods and fiercely hard, large thorns. Where the species occurs wild in its native Midwest these traits are well known, but this variety is podless and thornless. "Inermis" translates to "without thorns". Golden fall color ends the growing season.

In nature these trees are found along stream banks; because of this it is tolerant of flooding and poorly aerated soils. Despite the name the tree is not a source of honey, but the seed pods do have a sweet taste and can be fermented to make beer. The wood is durable and produces high quality timber that polishes well. It is used for posts and rails because it is rot resistant even when in soil. It has a fast growth rate and can tolerate poor site conditions making it an ideal tree for places where shade is needed quickly or disturbed sites.

[Large thorns on the trunk of Honey Locust]

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