A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants
Common Honeylocust, Honey Locust, Sweet Locust
Full to part sun; moderately wet to moderately dry moisture level; prefers organically rich soils but tolerant of a wide range of soils including sandy and clay loams; slightly acid to neutral pH.
50-75 feet height by 50-75 feet spread; yellow green flowers in June; purplish-brown, flat bean-like pods, 12-18 inches long, in fall.
Growth Rate: Fast. Both self-sows freely and sends up prolific root suckers that can become a weed problem.
Maintenance: Frequent disease and insect problems. Mowing and cutting of root sprouts will increase their number. Wood is extremely hard and is best cut when still green to protect your saw.
Propagation: Easy from seed
Native Region: Statewide
In spite of its weedy characteristics, this tree has historically been seriously overplanted but now has generally gone out of style. It is a tough tree that can make a fine shade tree and is tolerant of wind, high summer temperatures, and drought. Fine textured leaves cast a light enough shade for grass to grow underneath. Flowers are inconspicuous, emerging with new leaves and have a heavy, honeyed fragrance. Armed with three-branched, needle-sharp thorns up to 4 inches long so is generally not sold in commerce due to thorns and seed pods. Discovery of one wild population of trees without thorns, var. intermis, has allowed mass marketing of this subspecies and is the only honeylocust commercially available. Cultivars available are both seedless and thornless.
Flowers provide a valuable nectar source for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Seeds attract birds. Livestock and wildlife eat the honeylike, sweet pulp of the pods. Good cover for bird nesting sites.