The native species of honey-locust has large thorns on its stems and bark. For this reason, thornless honey locust, also known as Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis, is most commonly sold. For the sake of species diversity, it should only be planted after careful consideration of alternatives. The species may be difficult to find in nurseries. Most nurseries will carry the thornless form.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Commonly planted,
- Dangerous thorns
- Fall color,
- Persistent fruit/seeds
Season of Interest:
- Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Migrant birds
Tree & Plant Care
Prune in fall or winter.
Disease, pests, and problems
This species is heavily armed with thorns on the trunk and branches.
A wide range of diseases and pests can affect this tree: honeylocust plant bug, spider mites, leaf spots and canker.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Bark color and texture
Bark shows some red-brown in early years and matures to a gray brown. The older bark is broken up into long strips that are raised along the sides. The bark and stems are heavily armored with long, sharp thorns.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate leaves may be pinnately compound or bipinnately compound with many small, oval leaflets. Fall color is yellow.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flowers are greening and held in short clusters. They are not showy. Flowering occurs in late spring.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruit are pods (legumes), dark reddish-brown and 8 inches or more long. At maturity, the pods may be curled or twisted.