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The Black Locust is a pioneer tree. It is often one of the first trees to sprout on disturbed ground. This locust is well adapted to harsh environments. As a member of the legume family it takes advantage of a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria to fix nitrogen from the air the same as peas and beans.

The seeds of Black Locust have an impermeable seed coat that allows the seed to lie dormant for an extended period of time. It is this trait which causes trees to appear seemingly from nowhere when soil is disturbed.

Photo by Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Black Locust in bloom

Black Locust trees need a well drained soil. The trees will grow better with some fertility but are tenacious enough to survive the most difficult locations.

Beekeepers love Black Locust for the profusion of flowers it provides each spring. Where there are enough trees, Locust honey can be made in significant quantities. Locust honey is a distinctive and delightful honey.

Black Locust leaves are small and cast a light shade which allows grass to grow beneath the trees. This trait makes the Locust tree useful on the farm as a pasture tree that provides shade for livestock without impacting grass production. Black Locust has a few negatives. It is thorny when young, it is prone to root suckers which will require regular mowing to control, and mature trees are affected by a borer that shortens the life of the tree.

The wood of Black Locust is heavy, hard, rot, and shock resistant. It is an excellent choice for outdoor applications.The wood is a golden brown with an even texture. In Europe it is planted widely and harvested as a tree crop that can easily replace tropical hardwoods for outdoor and wear resistant applications. In the US it is most often used for farm applications making long lasting fence posts. The wood is not common in the lumber trade and will probably most easily be found at small local sawmills.