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Black v. Honey Locust

 
Joshua Msika
Posts: 66
Location: Nova Scotia
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Simple question:

Why would anyone ever plant black locusts instead of honey locusts?

From what I can tell, they are almost identical, the differences being slight and almost all in the honey locust's favour:
-Honey locust has more wicked triple thorns. In a place overrun with deer like here, I think this can only be an advantage.
-The honey locust pods are edible and contain about 30% sugar in the pulp. black locust pods are poisonous. I've read that they are edible cooked, any comments?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I would only plant Honey Locust (thornless). 

If you want another thorny tree, consider Mesquite (very tasty pods).
 
                          
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I gave a mesquite tree to my mom in Florida, but it won't grow in northern latitudes.

While there is still some dispute, the consensus is that honey locust is not a nitrogen fixer.  Why any member of the fabales family wouldn't be a nitrogen-fixer is beyond me, but if it's true, the tree can't be used in the same context as n-fixer nurse trees as they will suck more nutrients out of the soil.

 
Tyler Ludens
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mos6507 wrote:
I gave a mesquite tree to my mom in Florida, but it won't grow in northern latitudes.


Do you know what's the maximum latitude they will grow at?  We're at about 30 degrees N here where they thrive...
 
Joshua Msika
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Location: Nova Scotia
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I'm in zone 5b. A quick look on the internet seems to exclude mesquite cultivation here but it does seem an amazing crop tree and Russell Smith devotes a chapter to it in his book.

While there is still some dispute, the consensus is that honey locust is not a nitrogen fixer.


Far from consensus! I had decided, after reading a variety of sources that the consensus was now that honey locust does fix nitrogen, just doesn't have root nodules. If grown in a coppice system, the roots would die back when the top is cut and would improve the soil keyline-style whether it fixes nitrogen or not.

Personally I would only plant Honey Locust (thornless).


I'm hoping the thorns will give them a chance against the ravenous deer here. They seem to think that it is their job to prune young trees. Lacking any formal training, they often succeed at killing trees unadapted to heavy browsing pressure, like fruit trees...
 
                          
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Ludi wrote:
Do you know what's the maximum latitude they will grow at?


Considering what's going on with global warming, I'd say that's a moving target.

I just did a google search and it says they will grow all the way up to zone 6 which I find hard to believe.  I'm in zone 6.  There has to be some other environmental factors that constrain it to the south.

 
                          
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joshthewhistler wrote:
Far from consensus! I had decided, after reading a variety of sources that the consensus was now that honey locust does fix nitrogen, just doesn't have root nodules.


Not to beat a dead horse, but is there any biological precedence for that?  Aren't nodules the prerequisite evidence?

This is one thing that I actually support when it comes to GMO.  If honey locust is not an n-fixer, it's probably some accidental genetic mutation that turned it off, which could be turned back on again.  There have been some key developments lately in isolating the genes that control n-fixation.
 
john smith
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mos6507 wrote:
This is one thing that I actually support when it comes to GMO.  If honey locust is not an n-fixer, it's probably some accidental genetic mutation that turned it off, which could be turned back on again.  There have been some key developments lately in isolating the genes that control n-fixation.


The infamous Monsanto gene, requiring everyone to pay royalties to Monsanto.
 
          
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We're located near the edge of the honey locust growing zone. I planted them anyway. If they fail to thrive, I'd plant black locust in riparian areas to provide lumber for my heirs.

I agree about the thorns, I prefer the thorned to thornless varieties, but have found them impossible to find via traditional nurseries.  Anyone have sources?

 
Jennifer Smith
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I don't know the dif between honey and black locust but they grow all over around here, noxious weeds to many, zone 5b as best I can tell.  I bet I could find seeds for anyone who wanted, small trees would be more work for me to dig, if I could.  I need to go back where my wild horses run and get some gold rasberries anyway and keep putting it off thinking I have plenty of time... that is where I KNOW several huge producing locust trees are.
 
ronie dee
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One should consider carefully what you want from these locust trees.

Both burn hot for heating your house. Cut both and leave them in a wood pile for a couple years
and the Honey will get bugs, the Black will remain bug free for years.

The University of West Virginia did strength tests on different trees and found that Black Locust is the strongest wood even surpassing Oak.

Black Locust untreated and used for fence posts will last 15+ years. (Notice the + there Paul.)

I have a 16 foot Black Locust tree that i Cut in 1995 and used for a raised bed for 10 years then
used it for other things since. It is strong enough today to use for a bridge.

I have a small Black Locust tree that i cut in the 80's and used for a tamper and then used it for other things since. It is still strong but has split at each end.

Black Locust will spread from seeds and from underground runners and will show up any and everywhere you want it and everywhere you don't want it. If it shows up in your mow area, mow it like a weed. If it shows up in your garden, pull it while it is small.

If you Bull Doze Black Locust, it will return in groves, and take over the area. If you cut a Black Locust, it will probably return.

The bloom of the Black is the only thing that is edible, but not appealing to me.

I have never eaten the Honey and probably never will. I have bought both Black and Honey to use for firewood. I have gotten bug infestations from the Honey from buying it. I have noticed that a fungus of some kind grows on some peoples Black Locust wood, but i have never had any growth on my trees.

In my area the Honey has larger seeds, larger seed pods and larger thorns. The Honey has a honey brown color when cut.

I love the Black Locust for its durability and strength and for keeping me warm. The way it keeps growing no matter what, makes it a tree that I don't do anything to except cut it and use it. The down side is having to occasionally remove a small one from the garden area.

I would not trade one of my Black Locust trees for all the Honey Locust in the world. (Hyperbole.)

I love my Black Locust groves.   
 
tel jetson
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nitrogen-fixing: not settled for honey locust, but it's probably safe to assume that black locust fixes more nitrogen even if honey locust fixes some.

durability and strength of wood: I believe black locust would win this contest, especially the shipmast variety, though both species are good.  honey locust is said to split more easily than black locust, which could be good or bad.

firewood: call it a draw.  black locust has very slightly higher energy/volume, while honey locust has very slightly higher energy/mass.  if the energy/mass measurement is used, though, there are plenty of other woods with higher marks.

edibility: both have edible parts.  young seeds and seed pod pulp for the honey locust.  young seeds, pods, and flowers for black locust.  I've never eaten any of that, so I'll leave that discussion alone.  I imagine the nutritional content is comparable for both seeds.

fodder: black locust leaves make good fodder for ruminants with 24% crude protein.  young leaves contain more tannin and might interfere with digestion, but more mature leaves don't suffer this drawback.  they can be dried for storage and use over dormant seasons.  honey locust leaves also make decent fodder with 20% crude protein, though I don't believe it's as productive as black locust.  honey locust works well in pastures for pod production.  allows more sunlight through during the growing season than black locust, and drops pods for fodder during late fall and winter.  no clear winner here, they're good for different applications.

insects: I have never seen a honey locust in flower, but a black locust in flower might as well be made of honey bees and other flower-loving insects.  standing too close could cause hearing damage the buzz is so loud (note: that's some hyperbole there).

personally, I grow black locust because I inherited a small grove and they're very useful.  I planted a few more because they were available.  I grow honey locust for the pod production, though it will still be a number of years before any are produced since I started from seeds.  both trees are useful for some of the same uses and for different uses.  no need to write off one entirely in favor of the other.
 
Joshua Msika
Posts: 66
Location: Nova Scotia
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Thanks everyone, that's really useful. I was going to give up on black locusts completely but you've turned me around. I'll go back to my original plan of planting one or two honey locusts for the pods and quite a few coppiced black locusts for wood.
 
Paul Cereghino
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I have seen Honey locust suffer from blister aphids in lowland Puget Sound more than once to the point where growth suffers.  Don't know if this was just a bad site or a pattern.
 
josh brill
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If you were to plant black locust in your orchard and have animals grazing in the fall to pick up wind fall fruits is there a worry about them also coming across the black locust pods?  I am currently designing my orchard and am worried about mixing them in or having them border it.
 
Brenda Groth
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was just looking at a hybrid thornless honey locust in a garden catalog i got and trying to decide if it was something i might like to purchase..haven't decided yet
 
                        
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Location: South Central Idaho
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Raised in Breckenridge, Texas .. I have cut many fence posts from Mesquite and wished they were Black Locus. Mesquite will rot and get buggy pretty quick .. that is why early pioneers used locus as nails to peg timber together.

There are a few puzzles in herbs and trees .. Hawthorn Berries will lower high blood pressure .. while the stems and leaves will not .. they raise low blood pressure. Herbs will also repel Doctors, RN's, Congressmen and business at large. I just took my wife through three heart attacks at our place in the sticks of Idaho. On the second one she died .. all four signs of death .. and I prayed Isa. 53. This year she was on Capsicum Red Chili Pepper Gel Caps .. I bought the "O" gel cap machine for $10 and two pounds of Capsicum. She threw another three heart attacks and didn't even turn purple .. one was V Tach which is 90% fatal in E.R. with doctors and paddles .. took me seven hours and a couple of "swats" on the chest to get her through it and now she threw full occlusion .. blockage .. of the right and left lungs .. the Hospital signed her release papers and a woman Dr. said wait just a minute I want a 16 lead EKG and found the clots.

Capsicum saved her life again .. her blood oxygen levels ranged from 92 to 97 .. normal .. with what they were calling "you should be dead" and then denied that it could have been the capsicum.
 
tel jetson
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jbreezy wrote:
If you were to plant black locust in your orchard and have animals grazing in the fall to pick up wind fall fruits is there a worry about them also coming across the black locust pods?  I am currently designing my orchard and am worried about mixing them in or having them border it.


I think the real risk would be if you were grinding up the seeds and mixing them with other feed.  don't stake your chickens' lives on my guess, but I don't think black locust would be an issue for them.

our chickens spend quite a bit of time under black locusts and don't seem any worse for it.  I haven't watched them closely enough to see whether or not they eat the seeds, though.
 
andrew curr
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when i first started farming i ws focussed on HL because of the yield potential.(of the pods )
but when you add into the equation the leaf yield of BL and the durability of BL timber you would be a fool not to plant both and more tree crops
the Hungarians took BL to another level.
 
Balint Bartuszek
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andrew curr wrote:when i first started farming i ws focussed on HL because of the yield potential.(of the pods )
but when you add into the equation the leaf yield of BL and the durability of BL timber you would be a fool not to plant both and more tree crops
the Hungarians took BL to another level.


Yeah. We got a lot of black locust around here. There is just so much sandy soil around here, no real pests here, the BL is just loves it here.
And we love them too. It builds soil and grows super fast. My brother and i planted seedlings last year, and now they are about 3 meter high.
This year there will be a fine shadow under them.

People like to keep chickens under them since there is most always a nice deep leaf litter under the trees, so there is always something to find for them there.
I go every year and bring some compost from the woods for my grandmother to start her seedlings in it.


Also BL for firewood is better in my opinion. If for no other reason, then for the fact that it is much less work. BL is straight and there are no thorns to hinder work.
(Those thorns are just begging for trouble.)
 
Dan Cruickshank
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Chickens under black locusts? We planted two black locust trees last year. The chickens were allowed routine access under the one and not under the other. Come winter time, the one the chickens didn't go near had several holes from what I can only assume are black locust beetles. (I never saw the beetles.) There were no insect holes in the black locust tree that the chickens had grazed under. Were they there for the leaves? The protection from predators from above? Or were those beetles too much of a juicy morsel to ignore? My guess is they loved the beetles.

I should also mention that, at one time, we tried to put netting over the top of the chicken run. It never worked, but got tangled up in the nearby black locust. That netting might have also kept the beetles out--I just don't know.

Of course, my next question is whether or not this beetle protection will continue as the black locust trees grow taller.

Dan
 
andrew curr
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Hi Balint. didnt they improve the Black locust in Hungary? ie selected for timber growth and called them Hungarian shipmast locusts
I believe it to be one of the worlds greatest plant breeding stories of all time
 
andrew curr
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I use the thorny branches of HL as waitawhile (spikey tree guards)
I guess if you were really wierd about thorns ( it is easter) you could follow up on the Hungarien legume breeding tecniques
 
Renate Howard
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I have one mule that's always getting bloodied by grazing too close to the locust thorns. They don't hurt the other animals. I guess if you have a silly mule (or other animal) you might want to look for thornless varieties in the pasture.

I read black locust doesn't have thorns on the trunk but honeylocust does. My trees have some pretty impressive thorns and thorns on the thorns, but the owner we bought this farm from said they're black locust. Not sure if he knew what he was talking about or not. We moved here during a drought so they were in bad shape and no pods on any of them.
 
Balint Bartuszek
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Sorry, Andrew, i don't know much about that.
Only heard about those recently. :/
 
Christian Shearer
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This from the university of Virginia on the nitrogen fixing qualities of honey locusts:



Nitrogen Fixation. Honeylocust is a member of the leguminous family, but lacks the root nodules where bacteria symbiotically fix atmospheric nitrogen. For this reason honeylocust was thought not to fix nitrogen. Recent research at Yale University in the USA suggests that honeylocust does fix nitrogen directly in its roots without the formation of nodules. Further research now being conducted will most likely confirm the ability of honeylocust to fix nitrogen although at lower levels than nodulating leguminous species.


Source

Keep up the good work everyone!
WeTheTrees

www.WeTheTrees.com
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andrew curr
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Balint Bartuszek wrote:Sorry, Andrew, i don't know much about that.
Only heard about those recently. :/
can you find out and perhaps get some seeds
 
andrew curr
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Ihave 18 year old BL posts in my greenhouse
not a sign of rot or termites
 
ben harpo
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Black Locust untreated and used for fence posts will last 15+ years. (Notice the + there Paul.)


I was under the impression that black locust heartwood will last 100+ years in the ground. And that it is absolutely the best wood for posts that grows in the midwest, followed by osage, cedar, honey locust, oak in that order.
 
Annie Hope
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To pick up an old thread, we are putting in a "forage forest" strip along the edge of the paddocks. The goats and cattle will be outside, and the pigs and chickens allowed inside.  We plan to put in a forage hedge along each side with an electric fence on the outside.  The idea is that animals with make a jump though a line electric fence but will not push through it if something is stopping their way.  Secondly, if the electric fence does go off, then hopefully the animals will not munch through the hedge before we find an correct the problem.  (Inside the hedge on either side will be the chicken forage greens, fruit, nut and seed trees that we don't want the cattle and goats reaching).  We are in a very temperate New Zealand zone.  Summers have a usual high of 22C, and winter frosts don't ever get below -4C, as we are so close to the sea. 

We are looking at both thornless honey locust and black locust as an option.  Honey locusts pods seem to be a good "easy-pick forage" for goats and cattle and we have decided on them, but we are turned off black locust by the very toxic thorn wounds - as we plan to be an education site for children and adults as well, and don't want either the concience or legal issues if someone gets major problems from a thorn injury.
This leads to the following questions:
- Can the leaves of the thornless honey locust be eaten by stock as well?
- I did like the fact that the black locust is a good hardwood for fence posts  Can a good hardwood species be recommended that is also a good forage plant.  (New Zealand grows mainly softwood pines and then chemical treats them - native timber is illegal to mill, and tropical timber very expensive to import, as it is chemical or heat treated first.)
- The plant we have been looking at here that seems to have the same uses as black locust is Tagasaste / Tree Lucerne.  It is great leaf, bee and small seed fodder, fixes nitrogen and is fast growing, copices to good fire wood, and it is also evergreen (so great winter food).  I am wondering why black locust would be used instead of this, except that it is only hardy down to -9C, so this probably discounts most of the USA.  If you could plant Tagasaste, is there any advantage in planting Black Locust except for the extremely good hardwood?
 
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