Thornless Honey Locust Tree Facts: Learn How To Care For Your Plant

Divya Raghav
Sep 08, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Apr 08, 2022
Edited by Daisha Capers
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Read on to learn more thornless honey locust tree facts about this easy-to-identify plant, also known as Gleditsia triacanthos.

Gleditsia, also known as a locust, is a genus of 12 thorny trees or shrubs in the pea family (Fabaceae).

North and South America, tropical Africa, and Central and Eastern Asia are all home to honey locusts. Some species are cultivated for ornamental purposes, while others are harvested for timber or animal feed.

Honey locusts have compound leaves with many deciduous leaflets. There are stout, sometimes branching thorns on the trunks and branches of the plants. The greenish unisexual flowers are borne in branching inflorescences and are typically inconspicuous (flower clusters). The bean-like seeds are usually surrounded by sweet-tasting flesh in the legume fruits, ovate, or elongated and flattened.

Classification of The Thornless Honey Locust Tree

It is easy to identify these trees during spring with their clustered bunches of sweet pea-shaped flowers that are fragrant and usually pink or white. Also, look for straight, sharp, forked spines, as well as feathery compounded leaves. Different types of honey locust plants are seed propagated, broadleaved, perennial tree, vegetatively propagated, and woody.

Habitat And Distribution of the Thornless Honeylocust Tree

The honey locust plant is found throughout the east-central United States, ranging from central Pennsylvania to southeastern South Dakota, south to central and southeastern Texas, east to southern Alabama, and then northeasterly through Alabama to western Maryland.

G. triacanthos is a tree species native to the hardwood forests of the eastern, central, and southern United States and is one of the hardiest, most adaptable, and most useful tree species there.

Within its native habitat, it thrives in climates ranging from cold-temperate to subtropical, and it has been successfully grown in tropical conditions where it has been introduced.

Is it good to plant a honey locust tree? They are attractive ornamental, or shade trees for hedges, shelterbelts, avenues, and other similar applications and can be found in urban and roadside settings.

G. triacanthos is easy to grow from seed, suckers, or cuttings, but it tends to form dense thickets and become invasive. So, it's better to plant it.

Honey locust trees are known to grow between 60-100 ft (18.2-30.4 m).

Physical Characteristics of Thornless Honeylocust Tree

The physical characteristics of the thornless honeylocust are as follows:

The thornless honeylocust forms an oval or round shape as it grows.

This is a shade tree with a spreading canopy that can block sunlight. Although, they are also drought tolerant.

It grows quickly, gaining more than 24 in (61 cm) in height per year.

It thrives in full sun, which means it should receive at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day.

The thornless honeylocust grows in various soil types, including acidic, alkaline, salty, dry, and moist soil. It is moderately resistant to flooding and is somewhat drought tolerant.

Simple to plant and grow, it can also tolerate wet and dry locations, salt, compacted soil, pollution, and most urban stresses.

In the fall, it has a striking yellow color. It forms an airy, thin crown that offers dispersed shade while growing grass beneath it.

The leaves are pinnately or bipinnately compound and measure approximately 8 in (20.3 cm) long, with 8–14 leaflets. They are the last leaf types to appear in spring.

This creates small, yellowish-green blossoms arranged around spikey stalks that are quite fragrant.

It produces large, brown seed pods that resemble twisted leather straps and are 7–8 in (17.7-20.3 cm) long, with some reaching up to 18 in (45.7 cm) in length.

Uses of The Thornless Honey Locust Tree

Wildlife and livestock such as squirrels, deer, rabbits, and northern bobwhite consume the skyline thornless honey locust seed pods and seeds. Bees find flowers to be a good source of food. Some more uses of the thornless honey locust tree are given below-

It can be used to stabilize poor soil and control erosion on hillsides. The pulp present inside the pods of honey locusts is edible and mainly consumed by animals.

The wood of honey locust is of high quality. So, it is used as timber in making furniture and other items. Honey locust is leguminous, which means it helps in nitrogen fixation.


Are thornless honey locust trees messy?

The mess created when the seed pods fall off Gleditsia (thorny or thornless) is an unfavorable trait. The development of pondless honey locusts was a breakthrough, elevating them to elite status as non-messy trees ideal for low-maintenance landscaping.

When to prune a honey locust tree?

They should be pruned when the tree leaves fall, which occurs mainly in early spring.

What kind of tree has thorns all over it?

The honey locust tree has thorns all over it.

How fast does a honey locust tree grow?

Usually, they grow up to 2 ft (0.6 m) in a year which is a very fast growth rate.

How do honey locust trees spread?

Floodwaters transporting floating pods and people planting them as ornamentals spread honey locusts. Honey locusts were introduced from North America and planted as ornamental trees in Queensland in 1907.

How to plant a honey locust tree?

Purchase honey locust plants from any nursery and plant them in well-drained, deep, fertile soil from spring to early fall. Honey locusts are soil-tolerant. The distance between trees should be between 20-30 ft (6-9.1 m). Keep your trees well-watered.

How fast does a sunburst honey locust grow?

Honey locust trees should be planted where light is not dense. They require sunlight, and if they get proper sunlight, they grow up to 2 ft (0.6 m) in a year.

What is the name of the tree with thorns?

The honey locust tree is a good example of a tree with thorns.

Where to buy honey locust trees?

You can buy them from a normal gardening store. They have a life span of almost 125 years, so you can grow them over generations.

Is honey locust wood valuable?

Traditionally speaking, the wood of this tree is considered to be of low value for making lumber. But, some custom mill operators produce customized lumber sawn, which they sell for a hefty premium price.

Are thornless honey locust trees invasive?

The common honey locust, also known as the thorny locust, is a popular ornamental plant in North America. However, it is an invasive and aggressive species in some areas outside its immediate native range.

Is the honey locust tree a good tree?

Don't be alarmed by its anti-social behavior; the honey locust is a beautiful and useful tree commonly planted as an ornamental. The honey locust is a fast-growing plant that can reach 70-100 ft (21.3-30.4 m).

Do honey locust trees have deep roots?

Honey locusts have a deep root system that is widely spread and profusely branched, as well as a strong taproot. Deep soils are penetrated to depths of 10-20 ft (3-6 m). The root system is sensitive to environmental factors.

What are locust trees good for?

Black locusts are a great source of high-quality, sturdy wood. The wood of this tree is frequently used in the construction of fences. The tree's rapid growth is especially advantageous because it allows for the production of high-quality wood in a relatively short period.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

Read full bio >