Black Locust Tree

Height: Up to 100 feet, but usually much shorter  

Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous

Lifespan: Short lived and rarely reaches 100 years of age

Fall Foliage: Relatively pale yellow

Range: This tree has a discontinuous range, which includes the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding area, as well as portions of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma   

Typical Habitat: Very adaptable (which has led to the species growing far outside its native range), but grows best on deep, fertile, moderately moist soils  

The Black Locust Tree: A Fast-Growing, Weak and Weedy Species  

The black locust tree is a very hardy, adaptable species, which can thrive in a variety of habitats – a fact that causes many organizations to discourage homeowners from planting it. It also grows remarkably quickly, but it does so in part by producing fairly weak wood, which is easily damaged in storms.

This species also produces toxic leaves, bark, and seeds, making it a risky addition to homes with children or pets.

Black Locust Identification: Tips & Tricks

Like its distant yet similar cousin the honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), the black locust has compound leaves, which will help you distinguish it from the majority of common eastern trees. Additionally, it has larger thorns than any other common easter species, save for the honey locust.

Note that despite the relatively small native range of this tree, it grows invasively in many areas and may be found just about anywhere.

The Black Locust: Additional Information

Need more information about the black locust tree? Check out these helpful resources to find the info you need:

  • Morton Arboretum: A basic overview of the species, which provides info on the tree’s height, growth rate, soil preferences, and other important subjects.
  • U.S. Forest Service: A truly comprehensive guide to the black locust, this resource provides information on everything from forest associations to fire response.    
  • North Carolina State Extension: Complete with tons of photographs and information on the species’ toxic characteristics, this is a must-read resource.

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