The story of the popularization of black locust in Europe is an interesting, if somewhat bizarre, tale. The tree was first introduced into Europe in the early 1600s, but it was not until the late 1700s that it began to be promoted as a plantation tree, especially for use in ship building. The decay resistance of black locust is legendary. It’s said to last 10 years longer than stone. In reality, it’s estimated to last 500 years when exposed to wet conditions and 1,500 years when kept relatively dry.
Black locusts have gone feral in our area.
Gary or anyone,
Black locusts have gone feral in our area. We can get as many seeds as we can carry. Can you tell me at what stage the seeds should be harvested? We got some at just the point that the pods started to open. What's a good method for sowing them? ANyone here been successful at starting them from cuttings?
I posted a thread in the other permaculture forum as it seems more active but I might as well ask it here:
Why would anyone plant black locust when you can plant honey locust given that they are very similar in many respects and honey locusts produce pods that have a pulp with a 30% sugar content?
There are several toxic components in black locust including the toxic protein robin, the glycoside robitin, and the alkaloid robinine. The toxins affect the gastrointestinal tract as well as the nervous system. Clinical signs can manifest as soon as one hour after consumption and can include depression, poor appetite, generalized weakness to paralysis, abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody) and abnormalities in the heart rate and/or rhythm. With sufficient amounts ingested, death may occur within a few days, although black locust is not always lethal. Some animals recover despite showing clinical signs, an indication of the dose-dependent nature of the toxin.
Leaves, especially wilted leaves, young shoots, pods, seeds, inner bark are all poisonous. It may not kills the animals by eating a little but it certainly isn't good for them due to the toxic components and especially the nature of the toxic components.
One MAY be able to safely feed locust to animals after proper cooking and processing as the toxins are denatured by heat but this is not entirely certain.
Another issue is that even working with this wood may be toxic to humans and is reportedly carcinogenic.
does black locust need a specific bacterial inoculant in order to fix nitrogen?
If you're still worried, I'd say a handful of soil from under a black locust elsewhere would ensure enough of the right bacteria.
I guess I can always put a handful of creek soil in the planting hole with the locust...
paul wheaton wrote:
I posted the video to a few different forums and got the following response at prepared society that I thought was interesting:
I know that black locust is 4% fungicide by weight, which is why it lasts so long. So it is no surprise that there are toxins in it.
I think it is good to have the breakdown. And, at the same time, I think as long as critters have lots of other things to choose from, they will eat that which is best for them.
John Polk wrote:
I have read that the North American Indians boiled the seeds for food, but that raw seeds were toxic.