Honey Locust - Gleditsia triacanthos inermis
If there are leaves on the tree, look up and notice the tiny size of the leaflets. The Honey locust has compound leaves - that is each leaf is made up of many smaller leaflets. Some of the leaves of a honey locust are pinnately compound (a single stalk, called a rachis, connecting the leaflets) and some of them, especially if the tree is young, are bipinnately compound, which looks like a tree in miniature, there are so many leaflets. The area under the tree has dappled light, thanks to the thousands of leaflets diffusing sunlight.
Honey locust trees in the wild have thorns, but those in cultivation are typically thornless. Native to the Midwest, the trees are fast growers, and can grow to 40' to 70' in height. Their leaves are a bright green and turn clear yellow in the fall. If you don’t like raking leaves, the honey locust might be for you, as they drop their leaves early and the tiny leaflets tend to disappear in the grass or garden bed.
Many cities use Honey locust trees extensively along the city streets - they are tough trees and tolerant of many growing conditions common to urban areas: high pH soils, deicing salts, and compaction. Take a close look at the Honey locust tree growing in the parking lot of Shortstop Deli - it has virtually no access to open soil, yet it appears to be thriving.
Honey locust trees are so named because the Native Americans ground up
the seeds, a legume, into a sweet-tasting concoction. The native tree is
sometimes called the Confederate Pintree, as Confederate soldiers used
the thorns to pin their uniforms together.
This tree was cored
to document its growth rate for the last 25 years. The tree has averaged
¼ to 1/3 of an inch growth for each annual ring. That means the tree's
trunk increases over a half inch each year!