Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Gleditsia triacanthos L.
- Family: Pea (Leguminosae)
- Flowering: May-June
- Field Marks: Honey-locust is distinguished by having both once-pinnate and twice-pinnate
leaves on the same tree, by its flat, twisted fruits more than 1 foot long, and by its large, often
- Habitat: Moist, wooded ravines, thickets.
- Habit: Medium tree to 70 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 3 feet; crown broadly rounded; trunk usually with large, purple-brown, multi-branched thorns up to 6 inches long.
- Bark: Dark brown, deeply furrowed and scaly at maturity.
- Twigs: Slender, angular, reddish brown, smooth, zigzag, with 3-parted or unbranched thorns; leaf scars alternate; bundle traces 3; buds rounded, nearly hidden beneath the leaf scars, dark brown.
- Leaves: Alternate, often doubly pinnately compound, with many leaflets; leaflets oblong to oblong-lanceolate, rounded or slightly pointed at the tip, rounded at the slightly asymmetrical base, minutely toothed, smooth except for some hairs along the veins, up to 1 1/2 inches long, less than half as wide.
- Flowers: Some flowers with both stamens and pistils, others with only one or the other, in elongated clusters up to 3 inches long, yellowish, small.
- Sepals: Very short, 3- to 5-parted, green.
- Petals: 3-5, free from each other, about as long as the sepals.
- Stamens: 3-10.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, elongated, smooth.
- Fruits: Elongated pods up to 1 1/2 feet long and up to 2 inches wide, flat, often twisted or curved, purple-brown, containing several oval seeds embedded in a thick pulp.
- Notes: Gleason and Cronquist place this species in the Caesalpiniaceae. The pulp within the young pods is very sweet. Many wild animals eat the fruits. This tree is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
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