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All things Black Locust  RSS feed

 
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I have a thornless black locust and propagate it by stem cuttings as the original plant was grafted, so wanted it on its own roots. The new growth is thornless like the parent plant, but is interesting when suckers come up as they are thorny. So I will see if they lose their thorns as they get older, as propagating via suckers would be more successful than stem cuttings. The suckers though aren't as thorny as normal seedlings.
 
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Our church has a couple of black locust trees.




So I grabbed some seed pods and shelled them- got maybe a hundred seeds?



Remind me-should I try to germinate these now? Will they get big enough to survive the winter by the time winter arrives? Or should I wait until spring?
 
gardener
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here you go, mike. There's also discussion of germination in the previous pages of this thread.
http://www.permies.com/t/23395/trees/Germinating-black-locust
 
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I'm wondering whether to germinate some black locust and honey locust now (early summer here) for planting in autumn (April).

How do they cope with frost when they're younger? They will definitely see a few nights below zero Celsius but at the worst perhaps -5C.

I could germinate them with a view to planting in spring.
 
steward
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In 2014, I started something like 500 of black locust from seeds now in a wooden box and then transplanted them to a nursery bed (lots of work, I know better now). On this picture you can see the nitrogen fixation nodules. I thought it was really cool!
black-locust-nodules.jpg
[Thumbnail for black-locust-nodules.jpg]
nodules on the roots of a black locust
 
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New to the forum and am finding way more information of interest here than I have time to process. Will have to pace myself.

One of my areas of interest is black locust trees. Would stop short of saying I'm a crusader or evangelist, but there is a lot to like about them......if. If they grew straight and if those in the US didn't have so much trouble with insect damage. Seems odd that they do, considering they are so rot resistant otherwise.

So for the past few years, I have begun to take stock of locust trees as I find them. They all seem to fall under the broad species of Robinia pseudoacacia L, suggesting a locust is a locust is a locust. They are not. Probably the best info on them comes from Hungary, where they have identified many cultivars of locust. A good site (but one that takes forever to load) is here:

http://www.waldwissen.net/waldwirtschaft/waldbau/genetik/bfw_robinie_wachstum/index_EN

I can also tell from driving around and inspecting various stands (groves?) some are tall and straight. This is an example of a grove that grew near where I used to live:



Trees are generally tall and straight. This is also the case with two similar groves in the same neighborhood. None have had any stand improvement.

While others tend to branch and grow short and crooked......this is a very old locust tree across the road from my current driveway:



A number of interesting observations present themselves with this tree. First, it is old...........would not surprise me if it's over 100 years old. Growing in the lawn area of a very old farmhouse. Once you know what to look for, you discover these are common around old farm houses, suggesting they were planted. Second........there have been at least two coppice events with this tree. At the base......it branched early on and eventually one stem was saved. Later, that stem suffered damage (probably a wind storm to a locust damaged top) and the top has coppiced again. At any rate, this type of tree has little value, nor do many of the others that remain short and branch, and even more so if they are subject to borer damage. BTW, tree in the background right is also a black locust and may have originated from a shoot or seed off the fore tree. It also appears to have branched (or was coppiced) early on, but even so, branches are generally crooked. At best, I'm looking at a chord or so of firewood.

As for the branching characteristic, In one really extreme case, I found a stand that was short, had tight spacing between trees and all the tree branches were growing in a corkscrew shape. I did some searching once and seem to recall that once upon a time a version of black locust was actually offered as an ornamental tree and perhaps these short crooked versions descend from those? At the other end of the spectrum is the ships mast locust, which was found growing native on Long Island near New York. Tall, straight and apparently, no borers. If that was normally the case, black locust might be the most valuable tree species would could find.

This is another example of an older stand or grove of locust trees I found in my travels.







This is a small group of 10 to 15 trees, generally as straight as a telephone pole and no branching or limbs to a height of 40 to 50 feet and are nearly 30 inches in diameter breast high at the base. Spacing is about 50 feet on center, but there are other types of trees in the stand, which has not been thinned or improved by removing all those vines to benefit these aged sentinels. Knowing where these are (in the edge of a small defunct town on the bank of the MO River), these may have also been of the planted type, with perhaps the origin being those shipmast locust of the NE. They may also be somewhere in the range of 75 to 100 years old. What is not known about them is the soundness of the pith in the middle. Do they have borer damage. If not, we may have found our trees! One of the things on my "to do" list is to find out who owns this property, then contact them and ask if it would be OK to take some root cuttings. Then plant those on my property to see what happens.

Lastly, I'm on a quest to ID as many of these type of trees as I can find. Goal is to find them as straight as possible (no branches) and free from borer damage. Most likely these will be found to be a varietal cultivar of their own, much as Hungary has ID'd different cultivars. The next question is if these are actually cultivar difference, or as most seem to think, the site determines the outcome of the tree. Investigators in the US have concluded site differences determine outcome. Hungary research says otherwise. My observations say otherwise.

Lastly, as I understand it, while propagation from seeds is possible, seeds will most likely will not result in a true clone of the tree from whence the seeds came. Not unlike apples, pecans, etc. If you want a true clone, best place to get it is from a root cutting. I've read where they can also be propagated from stem cuttings and grafts, those tend to branch and become bushy.....not straight. Root cuttings grow tall and straight and are the best way to assure a true clone. To get those, you start digging at the base of the tree at a knee and find a root and follow it out from the trunk. You want cuttings that are about half an inch to an inch in diameter and about 6 to 8 inches long. Lay that in the ground horizontal and a top will appear where it needs to.

So, if you are interested in joining the hunt, and you have some of these tall straight trees that do not have borer damage, you may have something of value.
 
Eugene Howard
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One more thing.......while I am a big fan of black locust, I am NOT a fan of honey locust. If you don't have em.........you don't want em. They are a scourge on the planet!
 
Eugene Howard
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Anyone know where this effort stands?

http://www.blacklocust.org/shipmast.html

Anyone know Dave and/or or can you get me some root cuttings?

Seems these are actually native to Virginia........they were transplanted to New York from there.
 
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Eugene Howard wrote:One more thing.......while I am a big fan of black locust, I am NOT a fan of honey locust. If you don't have em.........you don't want em. They are a scourge on the planet!


Nah. It depends entirely on what your goals and purposes are. Though it's a bit of a challenge to control, Honey Locust is an AMAZING multi-functional hedge plant that produces a great product.

I'm actually sowing a ton of it by seed this spring, with plans to eventually get my hands on some scionwood of the large pod cultivars to topwork them with.

EDIT: that problem [of being challenging to control] is also an energy solution with the right type of stove-based technologies.
 
Lance Kleckner
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Eugene Howard wrote:Anyone know where this effort stands?

http://www.blacklocust.org/shipmast.html

Anyone know Dave and/or or can you get me some root cuttings?

Seems these are actually native to Virginia........they were transplanted to New York from there.



that page has been around awhile, doesn't look updated, here is some info on a different webpage, though it seems 'shipmast' may mean something differently on there than originally, since it talks about europe on that page.
http://newfarmsupply.com/collections/living-fences/products/shipmast-locust

I got my shipmast from forestfarm, though I don't know if it really is 'the' shipmast cultivar from long island, whatever it is, it is thornless, but borers attacked my young tree.
 
Lance Kleckner
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Eugene Howard wrote:One more thing.......while I am a big fan of black locust, I am NOT a fan of honey locust. If you don't have em.........you don't want em. They are a scourge on the planet!



Seems most people in permaculture actually talk very positively about both species.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Lance Kleckner wrote:
I got my shipmast from forestfarm, though I don't know if it really is 'the' shipmast cultivar from long island, whatever it is, it is thornless, but borers attacked my young tree.

I had heard borers mostly only attack mid-size trees [at least 3 inches in diameter or so.] Is that what you meant by young tree?

Was it growing in isolation or surrounded by other woodies?
 
Lance Kleckner
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I think it was 2 inches diameter when attacked. I have been planting a lot of black locust and cultivars, so a lot of years has been an infestation with locust borers, though the past 2 years I haven't seen them, may be an equilibrium forming and/or above average rainfalls help too.
 
Eugene Howard
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Lance Kleckner wrote:

Eugene Howard wrote:One more thing.......while I am a big fan of black locust, I am NOT a fan of honey locust. If you don't have em.........you don't want em. They are a scourge on the planet!



Seems most people in permaculture actually talk very positively about both species.



That may be true, but I wonder how many have actual experience with the negative aspects of the thorny version of honey locust?

Here is a thornless honey locust, one of several growing in a fencerow along with black locusts:



A person might be able to find some uses for the lumber......and of course it makes excellent firewood. Cuts easy, little bark and splits like fractured glass. Could probably split it with a large hatchet

These are the seed pods off this same tree:



There may be people who have a use for these, but I don't know of any.

This on the other hand, is a honey locust with thorns:



At first glance, it doesn't look too bad until you look closer:



Those thorns create all manner of problems if you want to use the tree for anything. You can drop the tree, but then you have to skim off the thorns. They hit the ground where they lay in wait for a tire to pass over to puncture. Either the truck or tractor used to harvest the wood, or if in a pasture or lawn area, your lawnmower. Woe be to anyone to steps on one of those. They have a toxin (venom?) that will leave you hurting for a long, long time.

This is the extreme:



Get a bunch of these going and I think you will rue the day you decided to plant them. They will infest open areas and are huge major problem for you once they get going. Around these parts, if you asked 100 people if they like them, 100 people will tell you no. Just saying.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Eugene Howard wrote:

Lance Kleckner wrote:

Eugene Howard wrote:One more thing.......while I am a big fan of black locust, I am NOT a fan of honey locust. If you don't have em.........you don't want em. They are a scourge on the planet!



Seems most people in permaculture actually talk very positively about both species.



That may be true, but I wonder how many have actual experience with the negative aspects of the thorny version of honey locust?

I know someone with an awesome mixed species edible hedgerow that incorporates Honey Locust as a Nitrogen-Fixing 'overstory.' [It may be true that Honey Locust doesn't share the N it fixes directly in the soil, but the N-richness of its leaf drop is really high.] Those wicked thorns work great in conjunction with Sea Buckthorn [secondary n-fixer] Osage Orange [I'd be trying to overgraft this with Che], Trifoliate Orange [which they are just now starting to experiment with overgrafting with Yuzu in my climate] and some other wicked stuff, trimmed short and tight such that anything that tried to force its way through would be in for a world of hurt. Also the trimmings of most of these species are excellent rocket [stove] fuel.

These are the seed pods off this same tree:



There may be people who have a use for these, but I don't know of any.


See Tree Crops by Russel J Smith. They're supposed to be useful as a substitute for Carob/Mesquite pods, and provide excellent animal fodder. Sheep even digest the seeds, which would control the spread you're so worried about.

This is the extreme:



By any chance is this a tree you personally know? I'd love to get my hands on these genetics.
 
Eugene Howard
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By any chance is this a tree you personally know? I'd love to get my hands on these genetics.



It is. It's about 100 yards from my backdoor. You can have the whole thing!

Seriously, if you want some scion wood, you are more than welcome to it. Would be happy to ship you some.

As for seed pods, don't recall if this tree dropped any, so seeds from it may not be an option.



 
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Wise Permies! I have a dumb train of thought.

My place of work is surrounded by ~locusts of some sort. There are only thorns on the upper parts of SOME of the trees, all thorns are roughly 1" or less, and one tree is mightily split straight down the middle from storm damage.

Im reading here that Black Locusts shouldn't really be on my plate, but I cant help but apply my sprouting lust to the mountain of seeds on the trees at the moment...

I know Honey and Black aren't of the same genus so I suppose this is two different questions, but what do yall think about sprouting these seeds with the intent of eating the sprouts? And if I were to do so, any thoughts on the toxins lasting through sprouting and then a drying/flouring?

Or should I just find less dicey snacks? :p
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Ian, are they black or honey locust?

As far as I can tell from my research (http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/1664#431287), honey locust is edible. There is much debate about the edibility of black locust although Sam Thayer reports in The Forager's Harvest that the seeds mature and immature are edible.
 
Ian Rule
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Awesome, thanks. I think that's enough reassurance to try it out.
Alas, Ive included all my identifying clues already. The more I read botanical reports on differentiation, the more confused I become.
Its largely thornless, but at least 1/3 of every tree has small thorns.... with no consistency, except that the thorns are all above the lowest branches. The split tree makes me doubt the 'Blackness' - while famously strong in use, are they still liable to break in a good storm? These are also 'landscaped' trees, so Im sure their health is less than optimal.

Do the pods offer any form of differentiation? There are zillions of seeds on the trees.

Also, what exactly is the toxic component in Black locust?
 
Ian Rule
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Do Honeylocust roots have nitro-nodules like the Blacks?
 
steward
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According to JLHudson's catalog,

The seeds (Black Locust) are said to have been boiled for food by the Indians, but are toxic raw.



 
Adrien Lapointe
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Honey locust do not have nodules.

The thorns on black locusts are much smaller as are the pods and the seeds. My experience is that thorns are not found on the trunk of the black locust once it reaches a certain size.


The seeds and pod of black locust


The thorns of black locust

Have a look at this page.

https://www.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/iowa_trees/trees/black_locust.html
 
Adrien Lapointe
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The seeds (Black Locust) are said to have been boiled for food by the Indians, but are toxic raw.



The mature raw seeds are quite hard, I don't think it would be very pleasant to eat.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:

The seeds (Black Locust) are said to have been boiled for food by the Indians, but are toxic raw.



The mature raw seeds are quite hard, I don't think it would be very pleasant to eat.



So are dry beans, but after boiling those can turn into mush.
 
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Eugene Howard wrote:
This is a small group of 10 to 15 trees, generally as straight as a telephone pole and no branching or limbs to a height of 40 to 50 feet and are nearly 30 inches in diameter breast high at the base. Spacing is about 50 feet on center, but there are other types of trees in the stand, which has not been thinned or improved by removing all those vines to benefit these aged sentinels. Knowing where these are (in the edge of a small defunct town on the bank of the MO River), these may have also been of the planted type, with perhaps the origin being those shipmast locust of the NE. They may also be somewhere in the range of 75 to 100 years old. What is not known about them is the soundness of the pith in the middle. Do they have borer damage. If not, we may have found our trees!



It's quite possible the straightness of the trees is not due to genetics but how they were grown, a clump grown close together will tend to grow straight as the fight to reach the sky.
 
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Eugene Howard wrote:
This is a small group of 10 to 15 trees, generally as straight as a telephone pole and no branching or limbs to a height of 40 to 50 feet and are nearly 30 inches in diameter breast high at the base. Spacing is about 50 feet on center, but there are other types of trees in the stand, which has not been thinned or improved by removing all those vines to benefit these aged sentinels. Knowing where these are (in the edge of a small defunct town


What's 50 feet on center mean?
 
Cj Sloane
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50' between each trunk. Not very resilient because say you wanted 3 trees and you planted 50' apart. What are the odds they'll all be alive in 25 years? I tried planting based on full sized growth and it was a disaster. Nature doesn't plant 1 seed but maybe 10,000.

So much better to plant 100 trees for $0.68 each 1' apart. You harvest the worst looking ones when their leaves start to touch. Feed them to your goats/sheep/cows. For nice straight poles plant them in blocks 1' apart. In 15 years you should be able to harvest very valuable naturally rot resistant posts. Maybe in 25 years you wind up with the 3 you wanted .

http://www.coldstreamfarm.net/categories/deciduous-trees/locust/black-locust-robinia-pseudoacacia.html
 
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:The thorns on black locusts are much smaller as are the pods and the seeds. My experience is that thorns are not found on the trunk of the black locust once it reaches a certain size.



This agrees with my experience. The thorns of black locust (Robinia) are not too big, just like rose thorns but maybe not as sharp. I snapped them off with no damage to the bark, when they were in high-traffic areas. And I agree, as they get bigger, there are no thorns on the lower parts or bigger trunks.

People writing on these forums seem to often confuse honey locust and black locust. Honey locust I haven't seen in person but in the photos of it, the thorns are much longer, thinner, jagged, all over the place. Black locust thorns are not very problematic, and certainly couldn't puncture a tire.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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So, here is a picture of almost 2 years old black locust.

My friend Bob is over 6 ft tall and the trees are about his height (note that the trees are on a swale and he is standing in the ditch).

Robinia pseudoacacia saplings
 
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Did you know, that the Black Locust wood shines florecent green under UV light?
At least, thats what German Wikipedia says.

 
steward
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that is super cool!

I wonder if the fluorescence has anything to do with the rot resistance. . .
 
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Someone had asked about thornless honey locust being sterile.  Some descriptions of the "unarmed" honey locust as being sterile, some don't.  I think it is probably fair to say that seed pod production is down significantly, but I could be wrong on that.

About fluorescence, I think Woodweb had a comment that all locusts fluoresce yellow.

Quite a few places have declared black locust invasive.  Almost universally, it looks like this means "all" black locust.  There are still places doing research on breeding black locust, so maybe something will come along which ticks (or doesn't tick) whatever is needed to get it off the invasive listing for that variety.

I thought I had run across a reference at Woodweb about cutting black locust for lumber soon after cutting (or rather, rough cutting it) and then drying it.  But, I've had no luck finding that today.

In terms of use for lumber, I would think that coppicing would reduce the volume of wood which could be used for lumber.  One use that I haven't seen discussed, is to make "composite wood".  If we were to debark and de-sapwood a black locust tree, cut it into relatively thin strips and then dry it, we might then be able to laminate the strips into something that approximates a timber.  If we have to use a thick saw blade to do this, most of the wood gets turned into sawdust which isn't very useful.  If we were to precision cut our strips to minimize how much glue is within the final "timber", this would be better.  I am guessing that a person would probably need to use resorcinol based adhesives, or resorcinol would need to be involved (Forest products Lab seemed to have work which points to durable joints for resorcinol treated, epoxy bound wood).  Could we use a vegetable oil based epoxy (resin) for this?

I don't know if this "recommendation" of dense planting black locust at 1 foot spacing is serious or not, I miss jokes along that line.  But, if I was to plant a square grid of black locust within a border of slower growing trees which would eventually take over the canopy and shade out the black locust, I think this would end up being something like 25x25 feet, which is on the order of 600 trees (on one foot spacing).  One of the things people have selected for in growing programs, is number of leaders (the ideal being only 1 to get a "shipmast" locust).  A person lets any given seedling develop to the point where it starts to have multiple leaders, and then one cuts the offending seedling off at ground level (or digs it up).

About 15% of the seedlings are in the perimeter, and about 30% within the outer 2 rows.  "Rejecting" plants in those 2 outside rows is easy, whether with clappers (small) or chainsaw (bigger).  But to reject a seedling/tree in the center, means getting access through more than 10 feet of interfering trees.

If a person is able to find one or more successes in that trial before the canopy closes in and puts the black locusts in shade, is a person going to be able to transport those winners to another place to grow?  If you have to try and take a sprout, is it going to grow true to the form you just selected for?

For me, a related question is how big are these winners going to be (both above ground and below ground)?
 
Gordon Haverland
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Okay, so we plant seeds (or seedlings) on a 1 foot separation on a square grid.  For the part of the tree above ground level, they seedlings will minimize how many branches they generate because the branches quickly interfere with other trunks and/or branches.  An exceptionally tall seedling (compared to neighbours), may put out branches as it doesn't know there is a seedling growing into that space from below.

But, below ground these seedlings are also generating roots.  How long before the roots from any given seedling move 6 inches sideways and start to interfere with roots from another seedling?

If instead of planting these seedlings in the ground, we could plant them in boxes.  The boxes at some point, start to restrict the extent of the root system.  But to remove a particular seedling/tree from the experiment, we just need to shuffle boxes a little (keeping north for each box facing north) to allow access to the one to remove, and we pull it out of the experiment, and then re-arrange the remaining boxes.

Let's ignore time for a while.  Suddenly the experiment is done, and we have one or more winners.  We want to move them elsewhere (the canopy is going to close in, and there will be too much shade where the experiment is happening).  If they are in boxes, to remove them is pretty easy.

What I would like, is to just plant the box and all somewhere else, no taking the seedling/tree out of the box.

I could make the box out of interior grade MDF or particle board.  Which is probably full of things not conducive to the health of a tree.  I believe you can get "boards" made out of coconut coir.  Well, maybe some people can.  Where I live, even if I could, they would probably still be too expensive.

Carbohydrates (like sugar) have been used for adhesives.  Flour is a starch for this argument.  Someplace in the middle are short length starches, and an example is dextrin made from corn starch.  Among other things, it is used as a binder for fireworks (and recipes to make it in the stove exist).  Can I make a "box" out of peat moss, natural rope (jute, hemp, ...) and dextrin that will last a year or so?  And then plant the whole thing in the ground (and have the box sort of dissolve/decompose)?
 
Gordon Haverland
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Sugars and starches may be too soluble, and even if kept dry might still fall apart.  Maybe polylactic acid (of 3D printing fame) would work as a binder?
 
Gordon Haverland
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[ Just about time to get back to work on today's job. ]

I've read through a bunch of papers, courtesy of Google.  Black Locust was "exported" to Europe 300 or so years ago.  Hungary got its first trees, some time in the 1710 to 1720 time frame.  Today, 23% of Hungary's forests are Black Locust.  Where there is good soil that is well aerated, they are getting good quality wood from the trees.  For sub-optimal locations (due to soil, precipitation or other), they coppice for firewood and/or nitrogenous matter, and raise it for flowers for the bees.  They are also starting to see pests and diseases affecting black locust trees.

When people look at properties of black locust, more often than not it appears that black locust has larger variability than most other trees.  In a sense, this is partly indicated by how well it adapts to new conditions.  A paper by Malvolti (et al) was looking at variability of black locust when raised from root cuttings.  Many people observe and subsequently expect homozygosity from the cuttings.  That isn't what they were seeing with black locust root cuttings.  The responses/properties of the cuttings could be significantly different from the responses/properties of the tree the roots were taken from.

Another place where this variability shows up, is that black locust will form associations with a larger variety of soil organisms to fix nitrogen, than one would normally expect (assuming one knew enough to have an expectation).

Apparently there have been black locusts which have never been known to sucker (from the roots), and then something disturbs a root and suckering begins.  If suckering begins, does it ever stop?

Apparently black locust and honey locust form thorns on suckers, regardless of the amount of thorns on the parent tree.

One non-scientific document about the suckering issue, suggested the only way to deal with black locust roots in unwanted places, was to start by poisoning the parent tree.  This apparently carries over to othering suckering trees, like tremblnig aspen.

Black locust will start growing in a disturbed place, and improve the soil to the point where other trees will start growing there.  Eventually these new trees shade out the black locust, and presumably at some point the black locust dies.  In the work from Hungary, the way they collected black locust seeds, was to sift the soil.  This often produced seeds that had been deposited many years before.  So, locust seeds can "live" an extended period of time before germinating.  It may take many years of shade, to "poison" a black locust.

But, in the course of all this reading, I think I seen mention of 30 (more?) varieties of robinia pseudoacacia.  This tree is not the simple tree that many jurisdictions in North America try to describe it as.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Gordon Haverland wrote:Someone had asked about thornless honey locust being sterile.  Some descriptions of the "unarmed" honey locust as being sterile, some don't.  I think it is probably fair to say that seed pod production is down significantly, but I could be wrong on that.


Not at all sterile, but the seeds of a thornless honey locust grow into a thorny honey locust.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Rebecca Norman wrote:

Gordon Haverland wrote:Someone had asked about thornless honey locust being sterile.  Some descriptions of the "unarmed" honey locust as being sterile, some don't.  I think it is probably fair to say that seed pod production is down significantly, but I could be wrong on that.


Not at all sterile, but the seeds of a thornless honey locust grow into a thorny honey locust.



I have seen many thornless honey locusts produce loads of seeds, and from planting thousands of them from seeds, I haven't seen the thorns come back, but it might happen in some. I have seen adult thornless trees revert and produce thorns...
 
Lance Kleckner
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My thornless honeylocust produces thorny and thornless seedlings.  
 
David Wood
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I've never heard of anyone planting trees at 30cm separation with the intention of doing something useful with them for posts, timber etc. Maybe as fodder but that would be an expensive process using seedlings as against seed.

There's a project in NZ looking at growing durable species for posts to replace treated pine:

http://nzdfi.org.nz/

and there's some publications on work done in NZ on this topic. See, for example:

http://www.nzjf.org.nz/free_issues/NZJF38_3_1993/564EB126-A7F4-4BE4-AD28-B1883E58616C.pdf

http://www.nzffa.org.nz/farm-forestry-model/resource-centre/tree-grower-articles/tree-grower-november-2006/ground-durable-eucalypts-for-vineyard-posts/

http://nzdfi.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Page-and-Singh-Feb-2014-Durability-of-NZ-timbers.pdf

They're talking about planting at up to a few thousand stems per hectare so several metres between stems.

We've planted a load of durable species at about 600 stems/hectare with a longer rotation planned. We will probably try some denser planting with the aim of a relatively short rotation for posts.

 
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Last spring I transplanted a young black locust from my brothers place over to mine. It was only about two feet tall when I did it. I placed it between two Cortland apple trees in the hopes that some of it's nitrogen fixing qualities will rub off as I understand that could be beneficial. As far as spacing goes if you are trying to start a bunch from seed you can get away with a very close spacing. after the trees are between one to two foot tall its time to transplant them to where you want them permanently. Just make sure to do the transplanting when the tree is dormant. late fall, or early spring where I am, as long as the ground isn't frozen.
 
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