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Black Locusts vs. Honey locusts et al

 
Dan D. Lyons
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I wanted to write a brief description of the similarities and differences of honey locust (herein referred to as HL) and Black Locusts (herein referred to as BL)...feel free to add something as needed. Please excuse the grammar and wording, its late and I need bed!

BL and HL are both thorny trees however BL doesn't generally have thorns on the trunks of older trees whereas HL has LONG thorns on the trunk and branches, regardless of age. Young BL trees will have trunk AND branch thorns (generally less than 1" but spaced farther apart than HL. Sometimes HL can appear from a distance as being 'hairy' with thorns, perhaps because they are.  When it comes to LONG, nasty thorns, that is the HL. Long, nasty tire popping, barefoot throbbing thorns= HONEY LOCUST! HL has long sharp thorns on the trunk AND branches on trees of all ages. HL has a darker, smoother bark (similar to that of a young cherry) whereas BL has a light tan colored bark on young trees turning a darker gray and more grooved (hackberryish) as the tree matures. Both HL and BL have seed pods.  BL seed pods are smaller, generally less that 7" and are nearly identical to Mimosa tree (silk tree) pods and also resemble eastern redbud pods.   Honey locust also have seed pods but they are distinctly longer pods like Catawba or Kentucky coffee tree and are oftentimes greater than 12" and often curl in a spiral shape.  The seeds pods of honey locust are often used as "sweet feed" for livestock and a sedating treat for that cow or goat who doesn't like to be milked. HL, BL, eastern redbud and Mimosa tree are all legumes and N fixers however HL and BL are in the family acacia, whereas eastern redbud and Mimosa are not. HL and BL have roots that are more similar to rhizomes (like a giant Bermuda grass!) and sucker profusely (like a giant Bermuda grass!) when cut or when the soil around them is disturbed. Many states consider both the HL and the BL as an invasive specie.

The flowers of BL are extremely popular with bees and produce a very sweet, aromatic honey.

As a side note, the Mimosa tree (Silk tree) attracts hummingbirds better than any other plant on earth! Here at the farm we have counted 8 different hummingbirds in our Mimosa tree at one time.

 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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Thanks for posting this comparison.  I am bummed to hear about those thorns....

So which makes better animal fodder/feed?

Do those thorns affect the 'feeding' of the leaves and pods?
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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very interesting thread.  id like to plant me a boundry line of the the HL......

around here BL is pretty prevalent.  popular for firewood and fence posts.  bee keepers like the BL  but i cant say iver ever seen  a HL tree.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I like the thornless honeylocust, I think it is a pretty tree. 

Also edible by people (the pods) but I don't think it's very tasty. 
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Also edible by people (the pods) but I don't think it's very tasty. 


A lot of the "edible" plants I've had are like that.
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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Dan D. Lyons wrote:...eastern redbud and Mimosa tree are all legumes and N fixers...


I actually just read that redbuds do not fix Nitrogen here. Searching "redbud fixes nitrogen" every other result is contradictory. Anyone have a reliable source on this?
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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FYI, BL bark and leaves are toxic to cattle and horses.
 
Ken LaVere
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Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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I have been collecting Thorn less HL seeds letting them soak in slightly cooled just boiling water, waiting for them to swell then starting them in post.... If you cant find any TL HL seeds around town check here-

https://sheffields.com/seed_genus_species_lot/Gleditsia/triacanthos/100544///Inermis//

If you would like just a couple and you think they would survive a ride in an envelope p/m me your address and I would be happy to send some out...
 
Cj Sloane
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Don't expect thornless HL seeds to produce thornless trees.

Also, I'd like to note that last year I wrote that BL was toxic to cattle but that's not necessarily true but a mineral block can help with toxicity.
 
John Polk
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This is what JL Hudson has to say about thornless HL
—Gleditsia triacanthos inermis. (d,h) GLED-10N. Packet: $2.00
Oz: $6.00, 1/4 lb: $18.00
'THORNLESS HONEYLOCUST'. Thornlessness is a genetically dominant trait and comes
true from seed. Other than lack of thorns, this tree has all of the fine
properties of the thorny kind.
 
Cj Sloane
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Well, I recently watched
(Paul's replacing irrigation with permaculture Talk) and he told a story about a town in Australia that Bill Mollison revived. The former ghost town now hates Bill because the thornless HL that he planted produced lots of seed that then produced HL with thorns.

Thornless may be a dominant trait but as you know, you can't eliminate a recessive trait. So if the tree produces pods (which some don't) then it's just genetic roulette.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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Cj Verde wrote:Don't expect thornless HL seeds to produce thornless trees.

Also, I'd like to note that last year I wrote that BL was toxic to cattle but that's not necessarily true but a mineral block can help with toxicity.


I know that BL has developed a reputation for toxicity to humans that isn't actually proven (actually it's been disproven - Samual Thayers eats BL seeds/pods and considers them edible), but most sources consider them poisonous. I wonder if actually edible to most/all likestock as well.

Though HL is considered an excellent production crop and also is edible for both livestock and humans. I've been trying to plant more HL where I am (there's already plenty of BL), because they make an excellent (free) livestock feed and because they also provide an massive quantity of edible beans (and pods) for people as well. The beans are quite large to and I imagine with a sheller (though I doubt anyone makes one that would work on HL) you could easily get enough beans to feed yourself for a year off just a few trees. Their texture is weird though, so marketability might be a bit tricky.

So on the HL vs BL debate, I'm on the both side of the issue. HL provides more food quantity (and quality in my opinion), N fixation (no root nodules, but scientific studies indicate that its roots contain N fixing bacteria in them, probably a more primitive form then nodules and not as effective, but still fixes N) and free nails, would also make an excellent upper story of a hedge row (or living fence). BL provides food, (better) N fixation and better (longer lasting) wood.

Though if I had to choose only one I'd go with HL.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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John Polk wrote:This is what JL Hudson has to say about thornless HL
—Gleditsia triacanthos inermis. (d,h) GLED-10N. Packet: $2.00
Oz: $6.00, 1/4 lb: $18.00
'THORNLESS HONEYLOCUST'. Thornlessness is a genetically dominant trait and comes
true from seed. Other than lack of thorns, this tree has all of the fine
properties of the thorny kind.


It's actually kind of unfortunate that thornless is a dominant trait. It seems it would be far easier to breed out a dominant trait than it is to breed out a recessive trait. Though the thorns have some advantages, for example a (thorned) HL tree could be grown in a livestock pasture and you'd never have to worry about the animals killing the tree (well maybe you would when it was a seedling), and the HL would provide feed (and shade) to the animals in that pasture.

Might be a good first step towards permaculture tool for conventional farmers that keep their cattle/goats/sheep in a pasture setting with few/no trees.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Philip Green wrote:
Though if I had to choose only one I'd go with HL.


I've decided not to choose - I planted both.
 
Anthony Anderson
Posts: 42
Location: Central Minnesota USA and Paris France
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Ive been collecting the seeds of both in Paris lately, mostly honeylocust. Great to hear that the thorns aren't dominant...as badass of a hedge that would be, I never saw thorns on the trunks of the honeylocust like in the photos, but the branches did have some. The pods would be a perfect treat for pigs or cows...and they are sweet inside. A good animal food/fast grower/nitro-fixer/less shady tree. I see MANY more black locusts here though - about 100 to 1. They have thorns on the branches and many are 60 feet tall here...very beautiful trees and make great chicken food in the fall. If people could collect all those smaller seedpods and save them for chickens later through the fall...could be great.

I took a nail file to the seeds and it worked..make sure the seeds are dry though when filing otherwise it will ruin mom's cheapo nail file lol

No seed chilling period either..started right up from 2012 seed. I really want to start large amounts of them for borders and mother trees in new areas..the city of paris must have realized how fast they grow and how easy they are to care for...they call them "acacias" but they are black locusts for sure.

The seeds from a friend in vermont (black locust) do look a bit darker than the ones here but they are for sure the same tree...maybe a different cultivar? Not sure.

 
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