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Botanical Name: Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis

Common Name: Thornless Honey Locust
Origin: Central USA
Locations: CNE, CSE


Notable Feature: The light and airy fern-like foliage provides filtered to dappled shade all day; this in turn allows grass/perennials/small shrubs to grow and thrive beneath. Also notable are its long and wide, dark brown seed pods.  

Habit: Short trunk with an open, spreading crown.  Very variable in size but usually grows to around 30 to 70 feet in height with a comparable spread.  Urban tolerant with a majestic silhouette.

Flower: Polygamo-dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees, but all trees may also have perfect (bisexual) flowers. Small, greenish yellow, borne in 2- to 3-inch long narrow, hanging clusters, not showy, but very fragrant, appearing in late May and early June.

Fruit: A very distinctive, 6- to 8-inch long, flattened, red-brown, leathery pod that becomes dry and twisted; pod contains many oval, dark brown, shiny seeds, 1/3 inch long, maturing in late summer and early fall.

Foliage: Alternate, pinnately compound, 5 to 8 inches long, with 15 to 30 leaflets or bipinnately compound with 4 to 7 pairs of minor leaflets.  Leaflets are 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long and a green to yellowish green. Turns yellow/gold in the fall; leaf litter is minimal making autumn cleanup unnecessary.

Bark: Initially, gray-brown to bronze and smooth with many horizontal lenticels, later breaking into long, narrow, curling plates with long ridges and deep furrows.

Interesting Fact: Produces a high quality, durable wood that polishes well, therefore a niche market exists for honey locust furniture.  It is also used for fence posts/rails as well as railroad ties since it is relatively impervious to rot.

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