All Common Names:
- Dangerous thorns,
- Excessive sucker growth,
- May be difficult to find in nurseries
- Spring blossoms,
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Season of Interest:
- Late spring,
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Alkaline soil,
- Dry soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Sandy soil
Tree & Plant Care
A large, suckering shrub up to 8 feet high with a spreading fan-shaped crown. Spreads by suckers creating thickets.
Best planted in full to part sun in all soils, including those that contain clay or sand.
Prune regularly to keep in bounds.
Bristly locust has appeared on some invasive lists.
Disease, pests, and problems
Stem canker, mildew, leaf spots, leaf miner, scale, and borer
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of salt spray
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to North America
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
The nectar of the flowers attracts honeybees, bumblebees, and other long-tongued bees; occasional butterflies (which are poor pollinators), and possibly the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Bark color and texture
The bark of the trunk and larger branches is gray and fairly smooth. Young branches are zigzag, green with very bristly-hairs. These long bristly hairs are purple-brown and sticky.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, pinnately compound with elliptical 7 to 15 leaflets. The green stalk (rachis) is sticky, hairy and has a pair of sharp spines at the base. Upper leaves are medium green while their lower surfaces are pale green.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Attractive, rose-colored, pea-like flowers in hanging clusters are located in leaf axis and at the end of branches. Bloom period is late spring to mid-summer.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fertile flowers are replaced by flat pod, 2 to 3 inches long and very bristly. Not very prolific.
Bristly locust is an upright, suckering shrub used to stabilize slopes. The purplish-pink pendulous flowers, blue-green foliage, bristle seed pods add seasonal interest. May be difficult to find in nurseries.
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8