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Honey Locust


honey locust main
Honey locusts are part of the bean family, Fabaceae. As such, they produce long seed pods full of bean-like seeds. The pods contains a sweet pulp that makes them a favorite food of deer and cattle. It is possible that these seed pods were at one time eaten by North America’s now extinct megafauna, like giant sloths and mastodons, making these trees an evolutionary anachronism – like the mango, avocado, and Osage orange. The honey locust has large thorns protruding from its bark, and displays fragrant yellow flowers in spring. Its fall color adds to the changing seasonal landscape in Central Park with beautiful shades of yellow.

Common Name: Honey Locust

Scientific Name: Gleditsia triacanthos

Origin: United States

Family: Leguminosae

Size: 40 - 70' tall, 35 - 50' wide

Form: Rounded to broad spreading, rather open

Culture: Thrives in full sun; adaptable to a range of soils; grows best in deep, moist, fertile soils of neutral pH that are not too acidic; tolerant of pollution and salt

Leaves

Compound or doubly compound leaves; odd rows of leaflets; lance-shaped and blunt; yellow in fall

Flower

Yellow, fragrant in spring

Fruit

12" or more, elongated pod, brown or purple

Bark

Smooth; tan-olive to gray-olive; many raised pores for gas exchange when young; later becomes deeply fissured, forming flared gray plates with orange interior bark; usually displays large branched thorns on trunk

Main photo by Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.org