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Black Locust
Robinia pseudoacacia

I have fallen in love with this tree since I started caring for honey bees and hummingbirds. They love those black locust flowers! Not only that, but being in the pea family, it is a good nitrogen fixer.

On the other hand, some people see Black Locust as a nuisance tree because it spread quickly through sprouts and can take over, it’s thorny, has lots of “messy” seed pods, and very brittle so you end up with a lot of fallen limbs. For some of these reasons it is a good tree for land reclamation projects, as it’s well adapted to poor soil.

Native American’s in Virginia would use the wood of the black locust for their bows, and it has been shown that they planted the trees eastward for this purpose. Although the wood can be brittle, it is tough, and was also used by colonists as corner posts for homes.

Size: Up to 70' tall
Family: Fabaceae (Pea Family)
Habitat: Sun, Moist, rich to dry, rocky soils.
Identifiers: Leaves alternate pinnate, elliptic shape. Thorny on twigs and branches! Long hanging clusters of white flowers (similar to pea flowers) in April and May. The fruit is a long slightly curved flat pod up to 5 inches long.
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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