Honey Locust , the common name for Gle-ditschia triacanthos, a leguminous tree, also called three-thorned acacia, found in the greatest abundance in the southwestern states, and sparingly in the Atlantic states from Pennsylvania to Florida. The tree grows to the height of 80 and even 100 ft., with branches spreading somewhat horizontally; the young stems are armed with stout, often triple thorns, and upon the trunk and larger branches are produced numerous clusters of long, much-branched thorns, which often give the tree a formidable aspect. These thorns are really branches suppressed in their development, and may frequently be seen asserting their real nature by bearing leaves. The foliage of the tree is exceedingly light and graceful; the leaves are compound, 6 to 10 in. long, and of numerous leaflets which are less than an inch long. The small flowers are in racemes 1 to 2 in. long, and, as in most of the suborder to which it belongs (Coesalpinieoe), are not papilionaceous, but nearly regular; staminate and perfect flowers occur on the same tree; the fruit is a narrow flat pod, 1 to 2 ft. long, and so contorted as to have been compared to a large apple paring; the numerous hard brown seeds are imbedded in a pulp, which when the pods first ripen is sweet, but soon becomes sour; this pulp is much relished by swine and other domestic animals.
The wood of the tree is hard and coarse-grained, and splits readily, but is not of much value except for fuel. As an ornamental tree the honey locust has its merits and demerits; while its foliage is too thin to afford a satisfactory shade, its graceful character and the very distinct habit of the tree render it useful in landscape gardening. It is not suited for a lawn tree or to be planted near dwellings, as accidents are liable to happen from its fierce thorns; the clusters of these, produced so abundantly upon the trunk, are often easily detached, and hidden in the grass may produce a serious wound upon the foot of the animal or person who treads upon them. There is a great difference in the thorniness of the specimens, the variety inermis being nearly thornless; in a quantity of seedlings plants almost without thorns may be found, and these should be selected for ornamental planting. The honey locust is chiefly valuable as a hedge plant. (See Hedge.) In Illinois, and more common southward, is found the water locust, G. monospermy which has smaller thorns and an oval, one-seeded pod without any pulp; its timber is of even less value than that of the preceding.
Honey Locust (Gleditschia triacanthos).