Featured Tree- Black Locust

Our featured tree this time is the Black Locust.

The black locust is a deciduous, oval shaped tree that can get 30-50 feet high and 20-35 feet wide in its canopy. The bark starts out green and smooth but becomes light brown and furrowed in age. Doing best in zones 3-8, the black locust is tolerant to acidic and alkaline soils, salty soils, drought and even salt spray. It’s easy to see how this tree will spread so readily. The only thing it isn’t tolerant of, is poorly drained soils. So it’s best to avoid wet sites.

Many consider this tree to be invasive due to the fast and aggressive growing traits that enable it to take over an area quickly. Excessive suckers that can form along the bottom of the tree tend to have thorns as protection and help the tree to take over more area. This tree is highly susceptible to ice and storm damage do to the brittle wood and poor branch structure, making this a messy tree.

While some consider this tree to be a nuisance, it does have some good qualities to consider. The clusters of white blooms produced in the spring are highly fragrant and are a good source for the honey bee. Its highly dense wood is good for outdoor projects such as fence posts, railroad ties, decks and porch swings. And since it has one of the highest BTU ratings, it makes for great firewood.

So while it’s not the type of tree you’d want to plant in an open unkempt area and leave to its own devices, it can be used in areas that are well maintained to keep it from overtaking.

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